In Part 1 of this episode, Spencer talks with host Sophie Grégoire Trudeau about resilience, how he has redefined possible and how he supports his own well-being. Spencer West is an author, humanitarian and inspirational speaker. Born with a genetic disease that prevented the muscles in his legs from working, his legs were removed, at the age of five, just below his pelvis. But he has tackled every challenge from learning to walk on his hands, to swimming, skateboarding, becoming a cheerleader in high school to even climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
In Part 2 of this WE Well-being podcast, psychologist, Kimberly Schonert-Reichl and host Leysa Cerswell Kielburger discuss the importance of nurturing our social and emotional competencies; these skills are learned, and can be learned, throughout our lives. Based on her extensive research in the field of social-emotional learning, she shares how the processes that foster positive human qualities in children and adolescents—such as empathy, compassion, altruism and resiliency—can be key in helping individuals at any age build a fulfilling, independent life.
Resilience is a process that involves using the resources we have around us, and inside us, to promote our well-being. Here are some tips to help you redefine what’s possible for you and building resilience along the way:
The truth is, being successful is hard. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. Many of these people succeeded because they understood that you can’t let your failures define you—you have to let your failures teach you.
You won’t love every subject that you study or every aspect of your job. That’s okay. We can make a choice to fill our own time with things or activities that bring us joy; in fact, these joyful activities might even make the less fun tasks more bearable.
Life can feel uncertain right now, and that can stir up feelings of anticipation, excitement, worry and anxiety—perhaps all at once. If something doesn’t go as planned, remember that these setbacks on our journey might lead us down a path towards a new goal.
Did you know that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team? He lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But once he said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.”
Find pleasure in the process; we may not be able to control the future, but we can control the present. Instead of letting your failures define you, you have to let them show you what to do differently next time.
Life’s full of adversity; it’s easy to pay acute attention to the negative. But by intentionally taking time to turn positive events into positive memories and experience, you can teach your brain to look for the good in the world. Who knows, sometimes adversity can show us a new path towards our goals.
“Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures.”—Barack Obama
As a featured speaker and co-host of WE Day, Spencer West has graced over 60 WE Day stages across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom encouraging millions to stand up, face challenges and embrace change. His journey is featured in the documentary Redefine Possible: The Story of Spencer West, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, and in his book, Standing Tall: My Journey. When Spencer is not inspiring audiences and young people from the speaking platform, he is helping others to create long-lasting impact by facilitating international volunteer trips in communities that WE Charity partners with.
Kimberly Schonert-Reichl is an applied developmental psychologist and professor at the University of British Columbia and is a renowned expert in the area of social and emotional learning. For more than two decades, her research has focused on the social and emotional development of children and adolescents in school and community settings. She began her career as a middle school teacher, for what then was then referred to as “at risk” adolescents, in an alternative high school. She received her master’s from the University of Chicago and her doctorate from the University of Iowa. She was a National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Fellow in the Clinical Research Training Program in Adolescence at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.
WE Well-being podcasts are not intended as medical advice or treatment and should not be seen as a substitute for therapy or medication. WE Well-being is a program that empowers people of all ages with tools and resources to promote their own well-being and the well-being of their communities.