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An example of resiliency, aerial shot of winding paths

An Example of Resiliency: Al Franken’s Resignation Speech

In October, I spoke to the students of St. Louis Park High School about resiliency. I began by reading the children’s book “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes”. It’s a story about dealing with change, and is an easy-to-understand example of resiliency.

As Pete walks, he encounters several messes, each of which changes the color of his beloved white shoes. But the stains don’t make Pete cry. Instead, he declares “I love my red shoes!” This goes on a few times, and Pete always demonstrates a quick ability to adapt to his new situation.

When I was done reading, I explained to the students that there were a few pages missing from the storybook. They contain Pete’s internal monologue after stumbling through each mess. They should read something like this:

Pete looked down at his shoes, disappointed, “Aw, man, my shoes are red”. Then, Pete took a deep breath, and made a choice. “You know what,” he said to himself, “I like my red shoes. In fact, I LOVE my red shoes!”

Resiliency is not about being tough. It’s about managing the before and after of an event.

Going into an event, you benefit from excitement and having a healthy, realistic outlook, paired with hopes, not expectations. If things do not turn out the way you hoped, you must allow yourself a time of disappointment and frustration. Then, – and this is the most important part – you recognize that your path can wind many, many ways and still reach the target goal.

We see this in storybooks as well as in real life.

Thursday, during the announcement of his resignation from the U.S. Senate, Senator Franken (who, coincidentally, grew up in SLP) showed incredible resiliency.

His path cannot continue in the direction he had planned, but he is not pretending to be tough. He is open about his emotions. (“This has been a tough few weeks for me.”) He is accepting that he is frustrated and disappointed. (“There is a big part of me that will always regret having to walk away from this job with so much work left to be done.”)

But he recognizes that his path can wind.

“What I want you to know is that even today, even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it’s all been worth it. … I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice. I will continue to stand up for the things I believe in as a citizen and as an activist…and I hope you know that I will be fighting alongside you every step of the way.”

Sen. Franken’s speech is a tremendously powerful example of resiliency that stands as an example for us all. He contributed to Minnesotans in educational policy from mental health support to Early Education funding to supporting affordable college. We thank you, Sen. Franken, for your tireless efforts to improve our lives and the lives of our children and for being a true example of resiliency.