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The Survivors Club

The Survivors Club

Most unemployed people read books on resume writing, job search strategies, interviewing skills, etc. There is another book that should be on their reading list, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the job search process.

Did you ever wondered why some people survive and others don’t? Why some stay calm and collected and others become highly stressed and unravel? How could some bounce back from adversity, while others collapse and surrender?

The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood, cites many examples of individuals who faced all manner of adversity and, above all odds, survived. This thought-provoking book not only profiles dozens and dozens of survivors, it also gives you a way to grade yourself on your likely survivorship, and tips on how to raise your score. You even learn which seats on an airplane are the safest (be near an exit, and forget about that window seat).

The three rules of the Survivors Club, according to author Ben Sherwood, are that everyone is a survivor, one person’s crisis can’t be compared to another’s, and people are stronger than they know. Attitude has a lot to do with it. If you see yourself as a survivor, you’ll likely be one.

You learn many of the reasons why people do not survive. One is called the Incredulity Response — people simply don’t believe what they are seeing. Two gripping stories bring this idea to life. In the first, a car-ferry sinking in the Baltic Sea, many victims didn’t move or try to get out of the sinking ship, but were rather “frozen to the spot” looking like “marble statues, pale and immoveable.” 852 passengers died. In the second story, a fire in London’s Underground train station killed 31 people, with many commuters marching “right into the disaster, almost oblivious to the crush of people — some actually in flames — who were trying to escape.”

“Brainlock” is another reason some people in crisis die. They respond to the shock of the situation by forgetting to think. “Under stress… people often display memory problems. They seem to forget what they’re supposed to do.” This isn’t good if you’re skydiving. As Sherwood puts it, “panic is the archenemy of survival.”

The final section of the book is devoted to helping you understand your own survivor potential, with quizzes to take and a website to visit.

Key takeaways:

  • Your mind will play tricks on you. You need to “slap yourself” hard mentally and say “wake up, this is real !” as fast as you can. Also: you don’t personally need to feel threatened or in danger for your mind to totally trip out like that, all that need to happen is a vey critical situation like this. The more you are prepared for this to happen, the better. Be prepared for: auditory exclusion, tunnel vision, and extreme time distortion.
  • Bad things happen and just accept that.
  • Your mind will either race or slow way down.
  • You will maybe get extreme tunnel vision and you will get “auditory exclusion” (someone can be next to you yelling and you will not hear them). That scene in “Saving Private Ryan”, when the Captain is under fire and just freezes and can’t hear anything and is in shock reminds me of that a lot.
  • ACT. The author mentions this. Force yourself out of inertia. Inertia is the enemy.
  • TRUST YOUR GUT. If something feels wrong, it is.
  • It is up to you. Don’t wait for others. YOU are the one who has to do it NOW.