Why Resilience, Not Positive Thinking, Is The Key To Your Success

Why Resilience, Not Positive Thinking, Is The Key To Your Success

Resilience is the ability to recover from tough situations and difficulties. The strength that allows you to cope with hardship in a healthy way. The capability to spring back into action mode once faced with disparity.

Positive thinking can harm you, too. When I started my career, I was convinced that positive thinking was the key to success.

I used to travel 90% of the time, and I used to tell myself: Yes I can do it. I used to say yes to all tasks given to me, and I used to tell myself: Yes I can do them all. I used to accept 10 meetings a day, and I used to tell myself: Yes, why not? I am as tough as stone. Quite the multitasker oh yes, I used to be that man.

Being a positive thinker has allowed me to reach far and it has gotten me to where I am now. However, I found out that it could also bring me harm in the long run. I realized that there is such a thing as too much positivity – we also need realism.


Too much positivity can become toxic; it can create unrealistic expectations and take a toll on your health.


How did I come to this conclusion?

After a while I saw myself getting stressed easily, panicked, not sleeping well at night and I started to feel tired. I went over my limits. I let my body & soul do things which my heart, feelings and energy didn’t agree with.

As I started to understand and learn more about leadership and mental training, I learnt a word that changed my life: Resilience.

Resilience is the ability to recover from tough situations and difficulties. The strength that allows you to cope with hardship in a healthy way. The capability to spring back into action mode once faced with disparity.

The ability to say ‘no’ to 10 meetings and do it in three days instead of one.

The ability to make you travel less and save your energy for a longer career and happier work-life balance.

The ability to know what you can and what you can’t do.

The ability to understand that multitasking isn’t always productive and it can harm your long term career.

The ability to have self-confidence, being able to believe in yourself, not always feel pressure and that you don’t need to say yes all the time.

Possessing resilience does not remove stress or the difficulties of life

This year has been filled with illness, financial difficulties, anxiety and grief. How does one cope with such difficulties?

It is very easy to become overwhelmed and dwell in our problems creating unhealthy coping mechanisms. Are you thinking how great and easy would it be if only I was resilient?


Resilience is more than just coping. It’s about learning from experience, being optimistic and learning that it is okay to ask for help when needed.


Possessing resilience does not erase stress or the difficulties of life. People who have this quality simply have a very different outlook in life. They understand that life is not perfect and that it is filled with hurdles that must be overcome. These hurdles can be lessons and make them stronger if they wish.

Resilient people are able to look at negative situations realistically but in a way that they don’t brood over such situations.

Fortunately, resilience is something that you can build in yourself

I strongly believe that with the right guidance and support, resilience can bloom within people facing adversities and employees going through stress.

Resilience can take some time to build so don’t feel discouraged if you struggle with difficult situations. In each of us there is strength and courage we did not know we had.

What are your thoughts about resilience and positive thinking?

Presenteeism Costs 10x More Than Absenteeism

Presenteeism Costs 10x More Than Absenteeism. How Can Leaders Tackle This?

Absent workers cost employers around US$150 billion per year, but those who came to work and were not fully productive cost US$1,500 billion per year in the US, based on the BLS data. Why is this so? And how can leaders address this?

We all had tough times in 2020 here in Europe. 

We’ve had challenges at work, in our relationships, in our businesses — name it, we’ve been through all of these. And the challenges continue as the world and the circumstances have changed since the global pandemic started last year.

Here in Europe, even just surviving this dark, cold weather, grey skies, no sun — with three lockdowns at home — has been challenging for some. Imagine not having the usual Christmas markets, no gyms, no indoor pools. All of these “disruptions” to the lifestyles we have been used to for years have led to increased depression.

Personally, my mental coaching bookings in the last six months, within three lockdowns, increased by 150%.

During my coaching sessions, I talked to many employees facing problems with resilience; some were depressed and anxious. And their issues vary:
  • Some experience fears of losing their jobs.
  • Some already lost their jobs.
  • Others had problems dealing with stress. 
  • A few had sleep problems.

Because of my exposure to various mental, emotional and psychological issues that people are facing due to the global pandemic, I can’t help but ask myself every night: Who is actually responsible for this? 

Research studies support the observations I had: 

  •  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 50% of people in Europe have a risk of getting into a depression. 
  • The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions or Eurofound has found out in their study that nearly 25% of employees are not resilient enoughto weather the challenges they face

So, again, the question is, who is actually responsible for these alarming stats?

Is it the employee’s history or resilience? 

Is it the employer?  

Is it the direct manager and the circumstances in the workplace?  

Who should support the people to have a healthy and a resilient life knowing that this actually has an impact on their work performance, and hence to the success of the business? 

While thinking about it, I remembered my talks and experiences in the last 20 years and it looks like that:

  1. Managers always look at the costs that are caused by absent employees.
  2. Leaders focus on what is called ‘absenteeism’ and ‘presenteeism’.

Absent Employees vs Absenteeism: What’s the Difference?

Let me clarify first the difference between ‘absent’ and ‘absenteeism’

Absent: When an employee doesn’t come to work — usually because of sickness or family concerns — due to an important reason.

The reasonable causes for short absences include vacation or occasional illness, as well as obligatory responsibilities like jury duty.

Absenteeism: Absence from work for a period of time beyond the acceptable limit.

Frequent causes of absenteeism include burnout, harassment, mental illness, and the need to take care of sick parents and children.

Back when I was a manager, I wasn’t fully concerned about the difference between being absent and absenteeism. Because the cost of being absent is very easy to know, which is: it’s the cost of: Number of Days Absent / Number of Available Days

But when I read more about leadership and studied mental coaching and resilience to better understand the needs of people, I started to become more aware of the impact of presenteeism and absenteeism rates. 

I also began to dig deeper and deeper, and at the same time I started to get closer to my team and understand them more and more.  

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2018 US annual average absence rate was 2.9%. For the private sector, the rate was 2.8%, while for the public sector the rate is 3.3%. The last number which was measured from the Eurofound In Europe, the average rates are between 3% and 6%.  

But what is the acceptable rate for absenteeism?

Usually, 1.5% is a very good rate for absenteeism. A higher rate can indicate an issue. The important part here is that employers should always have a look at the rate and think about what to do and in which areas employees have absenteeism rates of above 1.5%.

Presenteeism Is Nearly 10x More Expensive Than Absenteeism

From my point of view, absenteeism is not the best indicator of whether or not companies are on the right track. 

For instance, in the Middle East, as per the new GCC Insights, the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) found out that on average, an employee doesn’t go to work only four days per year  — this is somehow a good percentage.

But as per the same report, presenteeism was 57.5 days each – almost three working months!

Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism refers to situations when employees come to work but are unproductive on the job due to many reasons, including burnout, harassment, mental illness, demotivation, no chemistry with the team, conflicts, time management and stress. It could also be because of chronic diseases, which are caused by stress. 

The High Cost of Presenteeism


The cost of presenteeism to businesses is almost 10 times higher than that of absenteeism.

Absent workers cost employers around US$150 billion per year, but those who came to work and were not fully productive cost US$1,500 billion per year in the US, based on the BLS data.

Why is this so?

The reason is simple: Employees who are unproductive, demotivated, burned out, not resilient, feeling harassed or mobbed or not being treated fairly at work, could make a lot of big mistakes that are much worse than not being there.

Presenteeism causes companies to lose deals or clients, or have team conflicts and negative vibes in the whole department and across teams. I saw many of these instances during my 20 years of corporate work.

What Can We Do About Presenteeism?

There are few proven ways to measure presenteeism. But one surefire way to decrease presenteeism rates is having in place the right leadership.

If there is real leadership in a company…
  • They will dig in and find the reasons for absenteeism and presenteeism through a voluntary, anonymous survey among employees — which is actually the best and the only way to analyse presenteeism.
  • They will understand how presenteeism affects the company, the employee, the costs and the turnover.
  • They will know that life-balance is the key to a perfect result at the end of the year.
  • They will know how to put the right employee life-balancing program that empowers their employees, as well as teaches them to be resilient, eat healthy, take care of their health and body and family — in order for employees to be grounded enough and be able to give all they need to perform well at work.
  • They will understand that a life-balance concept starts from the management board.
  • They will understand that their balance at the end of the year could be highly affected by presenteeism and a lot of actions should be applied every year with a great monitoring system to control this issue.

A real leader will explore flexible schedules and remote work. The return-to-work interview routine is also the role of the leader. Improving the employee and workplace well-being and providing balance and rewards and recognition are essential.

How U-livewell Can Help

A study showed that some brands that were considered the best in the market had gone totally out of the market in a few days due to a very high presenteeism rate among employees.

The main reason behind this high presenteeism rate was the demotivation of the employees — seeing how the competition had much better and more modern technologies than their own; and seeing the gap get bigger between the company and the competition and at the same time between the management board and the employees.

It didn’t happen in one year but in a period of around 4-5 years wherein the management board ignored digging in to understand the reason for presenteeism. If they did, they could have saved the company. 

If they have engaged the employees more and shown them the love as well as how they should talk freely about their feelings and motivations with people, then they could have gone out of that deep hole they went into.

Leaders Must Help Their Employees Become Healthier and More Resilient

Employers need to understand that helping employees establish a life-balance is a process that requires a long-term plan supported by company policies. Employees need their leaders’ support in taking more deliberate acts toward maintaining their health and building resilience. 

We are very happy that in recent weeks, a lot of companies have discussed with us our holistic Life-Balancing live online program — U-livewell — as well as other programs in the market.

This means that companies have started to become more aware of the huge cost of not taking care of their employees and the huge positive impact of helping employees become more resilient through life-balancing programs.

Learn more about how our life-balancing program, U-livewell, can help you empower your employees to become healthy and resilient. 

CONTACT US: Support-Hotline: +43 664 2636997

Goodbye, Work-Life Balance

Goodbye, Work-Life Balance

The world has changed. Our lives have changed, our lifestyle has changed, our friends changed, and the way we look at things has changed. Do you still see work-life balance as a right expression? Do you still see work on one side and life on the other side? Do you see work integrated in your life or do you see it separately?
Q: Work-life balance or life-balance? And what do you think is the connection between life-balance and resilience?

We have had many talks about work-life balance with many HR experts, authors and experts in recent weeks. And based on our conversations, the answer was, yes — now people see it differently.

Here are their insights:

#1: Walter Zinggl

Walter Zinggl: I’m a big fan of life-balance because, basically, I started my professional living in an advertising agency and I always was convinced, and to some extent, I’m still convinced, when you work in a service business, you need to have a certain attitude for that. And that attitude best can be described that working 9-5 may work in a factory, but not in a service-oriented business or in a service business and definitely not in an advertising agency business.


I was convinced that I had to make my professional life part of my total life because there was no clear border. Walter Zinggl

What I always was convinced of, I was convinced that I had to make my professional life part of my total life. Because there was no clear border. If you have a client calling you at 7:30 in the morning, you can’t deny the call and tell him to call again at 9.

From my point of view, when you like the profession or when you have chosen that profession because it triggers something within your own personality, then that is nothing where you can say 9-5 and then stop it and then I’m a different person. 

#2: Dirk Stoltenberg

Dirk Stoltenberg: Definitely not work-life balance. You know that sounds as if there would be one thing against the other. So that’s not a competition. Life-balance comes closer to what I think, I mean, I like to talk about personal living style. I like to talk about personal fit.


Whatever you do should be in balance. Too much sport is as bad as too much work. Dirk Stoltenberg

This is what talks about you as a human being and whatever you do should be in balance. Too much sport is as bad as too much work. The only thing that I never heard you do too much of is love. Other than that, everything should be balanced.

#3: Vera Märk

Vera Märk: Life balance. Because for me if I look at balance, normally balance, right and wrong, good and bad but if you say work-life balance it sounds like you’re balancing something bad like work or something good life. Which is not how it should be. Both should be good. Both should be fulfilling.

#4: Bettina Sander

Bettina Sander: Definitely life-balance. Work is an important part of our life so it’s a life-balance. We spend so many time at work, it’s part of our life. I believe that work is an important part of our life and our work should help us in looking out for potential and should even define who we are as a person in the work environment.


Our highest resilience comes from understanding our own personal mission in life and finding meaning when we align our personal mission with the work we do. – BETTINA SANDER

Our highest resilience comes from understanding our own personal mission in life and finding meaning when we align our personal mission with the work we do. I think this is a combination. So if we have a balance in life, it will also influence our resilience in the workplace, this is my strong belief.

#5: Michael Bub

Michael Bub: I don’t like work-life balance because what work-life balance means is that you do not live when you work. And this is, from my perspective, a great mistake because you have to enjoy your work and then it’s part of your life and not to say, okay, I only live after work or before. 


I don’t like work-life balance because what work-life balance means is that you do not live when you work. And this is, from my perspective, a great mistake. Michael Bub

Life balance starts with where do you take your energy? So that means, do you take your energy from work or from your private life in terms of is it your family that you take your energy for at work? Or is it your sport, your hobby that you take your energy for at work? Right? 

Or is it — some people are taking their energy for life from work. So therefore, yes, there is a connection between life-balance and work. 

#6: Liliane Kuert

Liliane Kuert: Resilience is a very important, crucial part of a human’s life in order to have a good life balance. So, life balance in my point of view, is a very good blend of work, private life and family, leisure time. Whatever you want to do. If you get drained at work by a lack of resources then your entire life balance is, you know, overall, in a certain period of time, it’s going to be off.

Work is usually a very big part of our life, so I would actually suggest that employees take some time to think about what they need when it comes to work environment to make them strong, to gain energy apart from the usual work tasks.


If the leadership is not comfortable with the concept of life-balance integration in the company, it will never happen because it should come from up to down.


I see that if the leadership is not comfortable with the concept of life balance integration in the company, it will never happen because it should come from up to down. If the employee felt that it’s not the company strategy and value, and there isn’t an internal marketing to it, it will not happen. We would still be the same.

#7: Nils Sigwarth

Nils Sigwarth: I would call it life-balance, especially when I said in one of my earlier statements that it becomes much more fluid for the next generations. 

Absolutely,  yes, there is a strong link. Both of them I would say are very interdependent. I think resilience at the workplace has something that we need to do. It’s also how you manage your life balance individually. 

In the earlier days you know, there was a much bigger separation between work and life because you went to work 8-5 then you would return home and your life was happening and at least in the last years and in the next generation coming now it’s getting much more fluid. 

So certainly there are different requirements, there are different expectations and I think right now in kind of the older generation having that kind of more old-fashioned or kind of traditional thinking of work and life. 

And now the next generation coming in that has a completely different understanding of what work life means for them. They want to play tennis on Thursdays from 2-4 because they want to do their kind of work afterwards. They are happy to do something on Saturdays and Sundays which was a no go for at least the generation of my parents. 

#8: Ralf Althoff

Ralf Althoff: I think the term work-life balance comes from the time when Taylorism was very strong or after it has just recently subsided. There are a lot of new terms like “new work.” So from my perception, it can only be a life-balance – being in balance with my life.


It can only be a life-balance – being in balance with my life.Ralf Althoff

To ask oneself, “Why do we work?” “What is the value of work?” It is absolutely clear to me that it has to fit as a whole package.

It is all about life-balance

Most of us work now where we live, where we eat. Our children are around us, we have our break with our family. We can determine when we could start work or take a break or even go shopping or jogging in the middle of our working day. With all of these changes that have happened to us, I’d say:

It’s time for us to say goodbye to work-life balance.


The right expression NOW is Life Balance – we have to balance our lives, in general, to be resilient and to happily achieve our goals. And if we have life-balance, work will be running great because it is integrated in our lives now.

Three important aspects play a big role in balancing your life: the mental, nutritional, and the physical aspect.

Resilience: The Key to Life Balance

The mental aspect is built on resilience. Resilience is the key to life balance – a very important aspect of resilience is self-love because if you love yourself, you will have self-confidence that will help you clearly master your conflicts, stress and time. It will make you say no easily when you want to.

Life-balance is not only about some courses which you should do like before, it’s about a long-term transformation – its about holistic integration of a healthy lifestyle mentally and physically in your life.

Your nutrition and which vitamins you take in your day is important even if you don’t have time to cook.

It’s about the quick training which you could do for a few minutes to make your heart, back and body fit and ready for the daily challenges. Ten minutes of exercise a day could be more than enough — did you know that?

On the couch, the body slows down, breathing slows down, blood pressure and heartbeat, but the muscles are still under tension and the previously released stress hormones continue to circulate in the body. Only through exercise are more hormones produced (endorphins and serotonin) that neutralize stress hormones.

If the body continuously produces stress hormones and cannot relieve the internal tension that has built up through movement, the body goes into a permanent state of alarm.

Not only this but when you do sports and start moving, your body will produce endocannabinoide which has a great effect on your happiness and satisfaction in life. Studies showed that you will be more resistant to fear or anxiety. This is the same substance that is actually included in cannabis.

I invite you to start digging into the life-balance concept, because this is exactly what we will need in the coming period to master the challenges which we would be facing.