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.

On Monday's episode of "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn opened up about the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Vincent Colonna Jr., who passed away unexpectedly on April 5. He also shared some of the important thoughts and insights he's learned through the grieving process.

"Last Monday, I was sitting in this chair ... the two-minute warning comes and Stu said to me, 'You ready for the show?'' ... And that's when my wife [Tania] came to the door of the studio here at our house and said, 'I...' and she held the phone up. And then she collapsed on the floor in tears," Glenn began. "Tania's brother had passed. To say this was a shock, is an understatement."

Glenn described his brother-in-law as having "a servant's spirit."

"He was always the guy who lit up the room. He was always the guy helping others. He would never stop, because he was always helping others," Glenn said of Vincent. "He was on the school board. He was a little league coach. He was the soccer coach. He helped build the church. He took care of the lawn of the church. He was constantly doing things, raising money for charity, working over here, helping to organize this. But he was never the guy in the spotlight. He was just the guy doing it, and you had no idea how much he had done because he never talked about it.

"We also didn't know how much mental anguish he was in because he never talked about it. And last Monday morning, after spending Easter with the family ... he killed himself. This is now the third family member of mine that has gone through this. And I keep seeing it play out over and over and over again, in exactly the same way."

Glenn described his thoughts as he, Tania, and her family struggled to come to grips with the devastating loss.

"I learned some really important things as I was watching this wake. I'm seeing these people from all walks of life ... the people that were there, were there because [Vince] made a difference in their life. He was a true servant. As I'm watching this, all that kept going through my mind was, 'by their fruits, ye shall know them.' The fruits of his labor were on display. He was a servant all the time. All the time ... he found a way to love everybody.

"There are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And love your neighbor. So those two great commandments boil down to: Love truth. Because that's what God is," Glenn said.

"Love thy neighbor. That's where joy comes from. The opposite of joy is despair, and that is the complete absence of hope ... and how do you find joy? You find joy by rooting yourself in the truth. Even if that's a truth you don't want to accept. Accept the truth," he added. "But we have to stop saying that there's nothing we can do. What are we going to do? Well, here's the first thing: stop living a lie."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


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After imprisoning a pastor for refusing to follow COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian officials barricaded his church. And when some church members retaliated by tearing down part of the fence, Canadian Mounties arrived in riot gear.

Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to give his insight on the crazy situation. He described the new, armed police presence surrounding GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and how it not only encouraged hundreds of protesters to stand with the church in support but forced congregation members underground to worship as well.

What's happening is eerily similar to what occurs everyday in China, Levant says, and it must stop. Who would have thought this type of tyranny would be so close to home?

Watch the video below to hear Ezra describe the religious persecution taking place in Canada.


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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Enough prayers? Why is supposed Catholic Joe Biden suggesting that Congress ought to stop praying for after someone commits acts of gun violence?

On Friday, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray filled in for Glenn and discussed President Joe Biden's remarks during his speech on gun control. "Enough prayers. Time for some action," Biden said. Stu and Pat were surprised how dismissive Biden appeared to be on the idea of prayer.

Watch the clip to hear more. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Just days after Canadian pastor James Coates was released from prison for refusing to bow to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, several police officers showed up at another church to ensure restrictions were being followed. But Polish pastor Artur Pawlowski of the Cave of Adullam Church in Alberta, Canada, knew his rights, telling the cops not to come back until they had a warrant in hand.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere played a video of the interaction.

"Please get out. Please get out of this property immediately. Get out!" Pawlowski can be heard yelling at the six officers who entered his church.

"Out! Out! Out! Get out of this property immediately until you come back with a warrant," he continued. "Go out and don't come back. I don't want to talk to you. You Nazis, Gestapo is not allowed here! ... Nazis are not welcome here! Do not come back you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo, Nazi, communist fascists! Don't you dare come back here!"

Watch this clip to see the heated exchange:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.