Do You Have What it Takes to Beat the Odds?

By Ben Sherwood


The Survivors Club


By Ben Sherwood

Why do some people escape airplane crashes while others don’t?  Why do some people bounce back from bankruptcy while others never recover?  Why do some men and women overcome terrifying medical diagnoses while others give up hope and perish?

For the past few years, I've explored the secrets of the world's most effective survivors and thrivers while researching and writing The Survivors Club. I met people slammed by life who managed to recover, repair and rebuild. What are some of the personal qualities that make the biggest difference in survival situations? And what strengths should you try to muster when you face a crisis? 

What follows are the top five strengths you need in your crisis tool kit:

Hold Fast. Along with inked etchings of anchors and knots, hold fast is one of the most popular sailor tattoos. Seamen ink the eight letters on their arms or knuckles. When they tie down lines (a.k.a. ropes) and work the riggings, they're reminded of these two essential words. Holding fast is a fundamental mindset in the merchant marine. It means being strong and never letting go.

In survival, holding fast is synonymous with tenacity, the capacity to keep going and never give up. In Vietnam, American POWs shared a similar mantra. "Steady strain" was the phrase they whispered to each other or tapped in code. No matter the torture and beatings, the POWs urged each other to shoulder the strain with steadiness and stoicism. Above all, they knew the dangers of getting too high and or getting too low. Steady strain meant finding a middle ground and holding on.

The Fighting Spirit. No matter the odds, the most effective survivors keep fighting and never give up.  Remember the story in April 2009 of Capt. Richard Phillips who was held hostage by Somali pirates in a little dinghy?  Phillips embodied the fighting spirit.  For starters, he was a flinty New Englander from Vermont. He was also a 20-year veteran of the merchant marine with a reputation for intensity on the high seas. He's also an aggressive athlete and competitor who broke his neck diving for a catch in a pickup football game.

Capt. Phillips demonstrated the fighting spirit by trying to escape his captors. He reportedly jumped into the ocean and tried to swim for the nearby USS Bainbridge. One of the pirates opened fire with an automatic weapon and Phillips was pulled back onto the lifeboat where he was bound and beaten.

Realistic Optimism. A positive mental attitude is an incredibly important part of survival, but a naïve or foolhardy attitude can be dangerous. It's a phenomenon known as the Stockdale Paradox, named after Admiral James Stockdale, the highest ranking American prisoner of war in Vietnam. In the POW camps, optimists were the first to die, Stockdale told author Jim Collins in his bestselling book Good to Great. Optimists were always hoping to be released at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but were crushed when those holidays passed and they were still imprisoned. They couldn't stand the disappointment and gave up fighting, Stockdale said. Soon after, they died.

The Power of Purpose.  Back to the example of Capt. Phillips, who offered himself as a hostage when pirates first stormed his ship, the Maersk Alabama. From the very start, he was ready to sacrifice himself for his crew and his ship. Many of the world's best survivors and thrivers possess a sense of purpose or a calling greater than themselves. They're driven by a larger mission. And they're capable of enduring tremendous hardship.

The Power of Faith.  Religious belief is an incredibly powerful and universal survival tool.  Some 80 percent of the survivors I interviewed around the world expressed the conviction that God had somehow guided or delivered them from their trials.  Of course, there is no proof for this kind of belief.  That’s why it’s called faith.  And without a doubt, faith makes a profound difference in the toughest situations.

Beyond religion, there are other kinds of faith too. For instance, there is faith in one's country and the conviction that its leaders (and armed forces) will do everything possible to save your life. This conviction proved very important to the survival of the POWs in Vietnam.

Of all the lessons I learned about survival, here’s the most important.  Some challenges are truly and absolutely out of your control. A devastating earthquake in Haiti.  A colossal tsunami in the Indian Ocean.  A high-speed car crash.  A terminal cancer diagnosis.  We all know that some crises simply aren’t survivable.  Some people lose the cosmic roll of the dice, as one survival expert calls it.  But if you’re still standing after you-know-what hits the fan, your life and future are very much in your hands.  Survival is learnable.  It’s a constant process of anticipating twists and turns on the road ahead and steering yourself to safety.  I’m not recommending paranoia or stashing canned goods and flares in your jeans pockets.  Hysteria and panic will only make things worse.

Instead, I’m recommending that you master the Survivor Three-Step:

1. Recognize that bad things don’t just happen to other people.

2. Create Plan A and Plan B (because Plan A never works out).

3. Stay alert and vigilant.

If you learn to dance the Survivor Three-Step, I venture that you’ll feel more confident and capable whenever crisis comes.  That’s the ultimate truth about The Survivors Club.  Eventually, we will all be challenged.  It’s your choice if you want to be prepared and save your life and family.

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Ben Sherwood is the author of The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life, a New York Times bestseller.  An award-winning journalist and former executive producer of ABC’s Good Morning America, he is the founder and CEO of TheSurvivorsClub.org, an online resource center for people facing every kind of adversity.

Countless leaders on the left are now arguing that removing President Donald Trump from office won't be enough — they're now calling for the president's "cult-like" supporters to be "deprogrammed." And it's not just fringe politicians.

During an appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher" last week, former NBC anchor Katie Couric said, "The question is, how are we going to really almost deprogram these people who have signed up for the cult of Trump."

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi questioned whether the nation needs "a 9/11-type commission" to determine whether President Trump was colluding with Russian President Vladimir Putin "the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol." Clinton also made sure to include her favorite "deplorables" in her unsubstantiated conspiracy theory:

"But we now know that not just [Trump] but his enablers, his accomplices, his cult members, have the same disregard for democracy," Clinton said to Pelosi.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and New York Times Magazine's Nikole Hannah-Jones agreed that there is a need for "millions of Americans, almost all white, almost all Republicans" to be deprogrammed and punished, during an MSNBC interview last week.

Now, a story from the Washington Post is also preaching that narrative and even added that we need more restrictions for conservatives on social media and in the broadcast industry.

"So now we have to be deprogrammed? We've heard this over and over and over and over again, for months," said Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday. He read through the shocking details of the Washington Post op-ed and discussed the extraordinary dangers of the latest anti-conservative movement in America.

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As calls for censorship and restrictions against conservative voices get louder, Glenn Beck said he feels an "awesome responsibility" to speak, not the words he'd personally like to say, but those he believes the Lord would want him to share.

"It's an awesome responsibility, and one that I am not worthy of," Glenn said. "I want to say ... what He wants me to say. And I have to listen very carefully, because I feel the same way you do. But that will get us nowhere."

Glenn said it's time for Americans who are awake — not woke — to come together, no matter which side of the political aisle you're on, and stand with the truth.

"We are the Alamo, we will stand. But we desperately, desperately need you," Glenn said. "We need the people who are awake — not woke — awake. You may disagree with us. We are your allies, not your enemies. And if you will not stand with us in our hour of need, there will be no one left to stand with you in your hour of need. We must all come together, anyone who is awake."

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The incoming Biden administration plans to waste no time in overturning much of the progress achieved by President Donald Trump.

On his radio program Monday, Glenn Beck ran through 10 executive orders President Joe Biden plans to announce on "day one" of his time in office — including rejoining the Paris climate accord, canceling the Keystone pipeline, mask mandates on federal land and during interstate travel, and a proposed federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.

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Eric Weinstein, managing director of investment firm Thiel Capital and host of "The Portal" podcast, is not a conservative, but he says conservative and center-right-affiliated media are the only ones who will still allow oppositional voices.

On "The Glenn Beck Podcast" this week, Eric told Glenn that the center-left media, which "controls the official version of events for the country," once welcomed him, but that all changed about eight years ago when they started avoiding any kind of criticism by branding those who disagree with them as "alt-right, far-right, neo-Nazi, etc.," even if they are coming from the left side of the aisle. But their efforts to discredit critical opinions don't stop there. According to Eric, there is a strategy being employed to destroy our national culture and make sure Americans with opposing views do not come together.

"We're trifling with the disillusionment of our national culture. And our national culture is what animates the country. If we lose the culture, the documents will not save us," Eric said. "I have a very strongly strategic perspective, which is that you save things up for an emergency. Well, we're there now."

In the clip below, Eric explains why, after many requests over the last few years, he finally agreed to this podcast.

Don't miss the full interview with Eric Weinstein here.

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