Roofless! Lesson 9 of 10: Resilience

Over 10 years of owning Aptus I’ve learned many lessons however in this blog and video series I’m sharing 10 lessons in 10 years of business. Today I’m sharing lesson 9, which is one of the toughest lessons as a business owner, resilience. Resilience is how we bounce back, how we recover from tough times, how we respond to adversity.

You can watch the video version of this blog here.


Firstly I’ll share with you some tough times I’ve endured whilst owning Aptus.

The roof: Our first office was a small factor floor above my friend’s shop in Heidelberg.

One Thursday morning a freak wind storm blew the roof off the building in one piece, hard to imagine however I’ll share some photos to help you visualise what happened. I was showered in bricks, rushed to hospital with a large gash to my head. I woke with defibrillators above my chest and eventually received a 2-litre blood transfusion. Funnily enough, we moved to Collins street where the building had a more secure roof.

Bankruptcy: In our 4th year we received a letter of bankruptcy from the Australian Tax Office however after several days of panic we found the letter was not intended for us, it had been accidentally sent to the wrong business.

New life: In 2015, my children and their mother moved to the UK to live so of course, I followed. Within 6 months I went from a home with my wife and children in Melbourne where my friends and family are living, to alone on the other side of the world in a rented apartment without friends and family. At age 40, having to reset my life in this manner with zero support networks was very tough.

Closing a business: In my 10 years owning businesses in various locations has been challenging however closing a business in 2018 was one of the toughest decisions of my life.

All of the above examples of tough times are quite major points of struggle in my life however when we talk about resilience we refer to all scales of adversity, minor and major. The process of becoming resilient is typically the same for all scales of struggle. So how do I recover from tough times, how have I been resilient over the years?


Firstly, I must not fear failure. Some people say failure isn’t an option, I strongly disagree. For me to be resilient I need to embrace my failures and learn from this, this is what makes us grow as a person. When we are faced with adversity we feel pain, this pain can be stronger and harder to deal with than physical pain. It can also last longer however this is what we can control, minimise. After pain comes suffering and the point between pain and suffering is our defining moment, this is when we have the most control over how we feel, how we respond and how we recover. I do this in 3 steps:

Acceptance: Firstly I need to accept that shit just happened. The world we currently live in via Instagram and Facebook, where everyone’s life is perfect, perfect food, beautiful skies, and youthful looks. This isn’t reality, life can suck sometimes and shit does happen to all of us. As soon as I accept this I can start to rationlise what happened.

Reflection: Once I’ve accepted what has happened, I need to reflect on why this happened. Personally, this is the most difficult part of the process as I tend to take things personally and can be emotional. For me to reflect on my own I usually need time and this can prolong the period of pain, it’s always easier to reflect after a period of time when the emotions have subsided. To minimise the period of suffering I tend to speak to others, someone I trust who would understand the situation and can see it from a different perspective. This works well is the person has experienced similar struggles however isn’t emotionally involved in this particular struggle.

Control the controllable: After reflecting on what happened and why I can see clearly what was in my control. This then allows me to focus my energy on what I could have done differently to prevent any pain in the future. If I focus on what was out of my control I’m likely to form a negative thought pattern rather than being proactive in what I can change, what I can control. This will reduce the period of pain and help me recover quickly. I enjoy the feeling of success and challenges so the sooner I feel I’m better prepared for the next time, the more positive and stronger I’ll be in mind.

Remember that mental pain can cause more suffering than physical pain so the sooner we turn a negative experience into a positive learning experience the less suffering we will endure. Accepting we can’t be perfect and we will fail from time to time is realistic and this is the first step to becoming resilient.


I hope this helps you understand how I’ve overcome some hard times, I’ll look forward to sharing my 10th lesson very soon.

If you would like to recap on lessons 1, 2, 3 & 4 please click on the links below:

  1. Take Risks
  2. We Need More Than Free Food & Bean Bags
  3. Be True to Our Skillset
  4. Values or Just Words on a Wall?
  5. Empowerment 
  6. 85% of employees are disengaged at work 
  7. Recruit with Retention in mind 
  8. Leadership