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Bear Grylls: Leaning on resilience, faith

by Mike Vandermause on August 10, 2019

Bear Grylls is a British former SAS serviceman, adventurer and television presenter who spoke on Friday at the Global Leadership Summit.

His talk focused on four key areas that have shaped and forged him and provide inspiration for how we can face life's challenges:


When he volunteered to join the British special forces boot camp, Bear said he never felt so out of place and believed he got himself into something way beyond his capabilities. 

He failed in his first attempt to join the forces. He didn’t feel he was strong enough, fast enough, smart enough or good enough, and that truth hurt. But that failure built resilience over time and he was determined to try again to join the special forces, even though he dreaded the pain, fatigue and unknown that would be involved.

The boot camp forced Bear to become acquanted with a side of himself that had  nothing more to give. His first failure at joining the forces provided a doorway. He learned to embrace his failures, not run from them.


Life can be scary. All of us face battles and giants that can be frightening. Life will test us physically, mentally and emotionally. How we react to testing is key.

Life doesn’t always reward the brilliant and talented. Life rewards the dogged and determined, those who can walk toward their fears.

Bear talked about his free fall sky diving accident. He survived but faced months of rehab, night terrors and fear. He dreads sky diving because of that accident but still chooses to jump today because he has learned the answer to fear is to face it. We should use fear and become friends with it.

Life and experience has shown Bear that when we edge toward our fears, so often the fears melt away. The only true way over our fears is right through the middle of them. You’ve got to face the wolves, swim strong if surrounded by sharks.

We all have our fears, which is a normal part of life. It makes us real and relatable. Light can only shine through cracked vessels. We should use fear like a driver, an emotion to sharpen us.


Hang on and endure beyond the norm. How do we access that? We've got to understand no one is brilliant or brave all the time. It’s about delivering a little bit extra at key moments. Always be willing to go a little further.

When not one ounce of you thinks you can go the extra mile, you must give that little bit of extra. Whenever it’s grim and people are throwing in the towel, make that a trigger to give more.

Persistence requires digging deep. The fire inside you is sometimes hidden — it’s just an ember but it’s a God-given gift and can change everything.

In climbing Mount Everest, Bear had to find out what he was really made of. After climbing for 55 days, it was minus-40 degrees and a dark ice face loomed ahead. After spending so much time at high altitude he was weak and mentally exhausted. He kept sliding back on the ice with every step and was no longer sure he could make it.

A voice inside told him that he wasn’t meant to climb, he didn’t belong there, he wasn’t good enough to make it to the summit. The voice said he should give up, and Bear said he was slowly bowing to that voice.

But then he leaned into his inner fire, which was just an ember at that point. NGU - Never Give Up. This fire was his most valuable weapon — not talent, not skills, but resilience. You must know and tap into the power of resilience. The storms of life make us strong. During long dark nights, the dawn will always come.


When he was 600 feet below the Everest summit, the negative voices were drowned out by another voice, a better voice that was saying: I am with you. Lean on me. Go forward. Get back up when you fall. The summit will come.

We all face our Everest, which is a state of mind. On that mountain when Bear was hearing the voice of doubt, he chose to lean on his faith during some of the grimmest moments of his life. His faith was something quiet and personal, almost like a secret strength. He draws on it every day.

Faith tells him he is known, loved and forgiven, regardless of how many times he falls down or fails. When he has tried to do life without his faith, he survives for a little while. But he has learned that alone we can never be fully empowered. To be complete and fully alive, he needs the life giving presence that Christ provides.

Some people say faith is like a crutch. What does a crutch do? It helps people stand, and it also provides a weapon against life’s trials. Bear said that as time goes on he needs that strength more and more to tackle big battles and climb big mountains.

Faith is very different than religion. The irony is that Jesus was the least religious, most free and probably wildest character that ever existed. He loved to party, hung out with outsiders. The only people he got angry with were the religious and the hypocrites. “That to me says so much,” Bear said.

Faith is a journey that takes real courage. Life and the wild taught him that the tougher part ends up being the most fulfilling. When it comes to quietly bowing a knee to gain  peace and strength in his spirit, Bear said he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.


Reaching the summit should never be the whole story. Along the journey it’s about finding true wealth in being grateful and kind.

It’s about seeking humility and having gratitude, no matter how difficult life can be.

Kindness is powerful and can change people. Real wealth will be found in our relationships.

Simple things keep us moving through dark nights and keep us smiling through bright days.

You are made amazing. Stand tall. Never give up!