By the time you need to draw on your resilience; it’s too late…


I live in Alberta, Canada. You may not know this, but  Alberta is Canada’s oil province; kind of like Texas is for the US.


When oil prices first started tanking, I asked friends in the industry what this would mean for them. Unilaterally the response was along the lines of: “This won’t last. Prices will be back to normal within a few months…”.

While I’m a proponent of positive thinking, I don’t believe in denial. Acknowledging we are in trouble is not being a doom and gloomer; It’s being a realist. When we’re being real, we can take action that takes into account the upside, and the downside. Pretending there is no downside just ends in tears.

So, what can we do? Let me give you a seemingly unrelated example.

Eighteen months ago I could not raise my left arm above my head. For a guy with no legs, this was obviously a problem. For the first time in sixteen years, I suddenly felt disabled… Basically, my shoulders were worn out. Months of physiotherapy ensued, and slowly I started to get some range and stability back into my shoulders, at first by focussing on my back. But then I plateaued.

While I felt like I could now at least function, the nagging constant in my mind was “is this it? Is this as good as it’s going to get?”.

A chance conversation with a friend saw me show up at Hugh Simpson’s office at One Wellness here in Canmore. Hugh went on to explain, that yes, “your shoulders are worn out; we can’t change that. What we can do is get you into the gym and build up the muscle around them.”


Five months of working with Tommy Parish, one of Hugh’s trainers, and I have to tell you I’m stronger than I’ve been in 5 of 6 years. I’m doing pull-ups for the first time in over a year. I’ll be downhill skiing this Winter for the first time in 3 years.

But that’s enough about me.

The question is, what are you doing while the chips are down? It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for ourselves; I know I did. But what are you going to do to keep moving; to keep that forward momentum?

I’ve said this before; I’ll say it again:

By the time you need to draw on your resilience; it’s too late.

You can’t build any more.

You need to build resilience before you need it.

In my example I needed to rebuild my physical resilience. For you it might be different. You might need to expand your skill set. Or have more of a financial buffer for when times get lean.

We don’t know how long oil will stay under $50 a barrel. But I do know this.

Don’t wait for prices to come back up.

Start working today on your weak spots.

Start working today on what made you vulnerable in the first place.

Start working today on whatever it is that moves you forward.

Start banking some resilience.

Archived Comments


  1. martin kelly says:

    November 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    So Warren, as usual great advice.

    Reminds me – perhaps not a great analogy – of the Taoist saying: ” Pain in life is a given; suffering, however, is optional.

    Thanks for inspiring us these many years – and helping to keep our heads straight!!,




    • Warren Macdonald says:

      November 4, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      I like, thanks Martin. Really appreciate you popping in to comment
      And hey, it’s been awesome for me to be able to share thoughts and observations here on the blog, and to know people like you are out there reading 


  2. Mary Bowe says:

    November 7, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Needed this today!!

  3. Paul Craft says:

    November 30, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Thanks Warren for the perspective. Your willingness to share is inspiring. Many thanks.