Resilience – Is it genetic, environmental, or both?

Those who know me are aware of my multiple career journey. I went from from entrepreneurial dentist, to Wall Street analyst, to digital health analyst and business development consultant.

Along the way, life circumstances forced me to harness my zest for adventure and embrace multiple career changes as a normal mode of operation.

Recently, in sharing the end of his life with my dad, I realized for the first time that this might have been genetic. He began his career as a Yale-trained mechanical engineer. At midlife, he found himself unemployed and had to reinvent himself. First, he as an aerospace consultant, then an accounting student, and then a stay-at-home dad. Eventually he became a maintenance engineer in the U.S. Post Office Bulk Mail center and finally an internal arbitrator.

After retirement, he continued his arbitration work at Bet Tzedek and became a savvy investor in the market. Each year, he proudly shared an investing dividend with each of his 19 grandchildren.

His quadruple bypass reminded him to smell the roses, which triggered lots of international travel via cruise ships with my mom.

As his physical body began to fail, he was able to garner his determination and take action, always seeing the bright side. When he lost quad strength in his legs, he tapped into his engineering skills and background.  He figured out that he needed to raise the bed and get a hydraulic cushion to help him get out of the chair.

At the age of 86, his legs could no longer support him and his kidneys began to fail. He proactively told his doctors that “he did not want to ever go back to the hospital or have any other invasive care.” This was the equivalent of putting himself into hospice. Imagine how the medical system would work if more people and families followed my dad’s example.

He seldom complained, showing mindfulness and gratitude while always thanking me for coming to visit. Even on his last day, despite his own pain, he asked me what was I doing to take care of myself.

Yet, until this time, I never appreciated that my natural resilience may have come from my dad. Odd how it sometimes takes losing someone to see what is right before our eyes.

Has this ever happened to you? Where does your resilience stem from?

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