Author Rob Swymer of Surrender To Your Adversity: How To Live With Joie De Vivre, Even When It Feels Like The Whole World Is Pulling You Down
Develop a growth mindset — Work on yourself to get better, level up, never stop learning and growing. Stretch yourself to exceed your goals. Do in one year what you think you can do in two. Push yourself to break through your limiting beliefs and go beyond your wildest dreams. Take massive action toward creating your amazing life.
As a part of my series about how to live with Joie De Vivre, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rob Swymer.
Like most people, successful sales executive and certified life coach Rob Swymer has gone through his share of adversity in life. In his new book Surrender to Your Adversity, Robert illustrates how your internal mental-talk track affects every belief and action you take. By sharing his journey and illustrating his tough losses (the unexpected death of a beloved partner, substance abuse, and other family challenges), Rob demonstrates that whatever adversities a person may encounter, they don’t have to be permanent setbacks. He shows how even seemingly significant obstacles can be opportunities that allow us to live more gracious, courageous, and authentic lives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
A native of Boston, I married my first wife, Bonnie, at the age of 21 during the summer of my college junior year. Together, we had three children. In 1994, we moved from Boston and headed to Atlanta, where we raised our children and built a great life together.
In 2013, I lost Bonnie to a massive brain aneurysm. I learned that all the adversity in my life prior had given me the strength to endure the loss of a loved one. In 2016, I was blessed to find love again and am now married to Melissa. Together we have a blended family of 5 children and four beautiful grandchildren.
I am a seasoned sales executive of over 40 years who embodies a servant leadership mindset. I have enjoyed success in small startups and larger companies, most recently in London as group vice president for a publicly-traded company based in San Francisco. I lead my teams with empathy and apply the lessons learned from my adversity to help others build resilience and thrive, not only in business but also in their personal lives.
Today, in addition to working as a Business Leader, I am a certified life coach and a frequent speaker about overcoming adversity and how to make a living in a beautiful state non-negotiable.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I just returned from a two-year assignment in London for my Company. I was charged with reinforcing the company culture and building a highly collaborative, trusting, fun, and successful team. It got exciting when the world shut down and went virtual-only a month into my assignment. Being from America, not knowing any of my team yet, I had to make human connections via zoom. There are still some of my staff that I have never met in person. This was uncharted territory not only for me but everyone. I had to call on all the skills I had and work hard to be present in any way possible. My team needed to know that I was engaged and there to serve. I am convinced that all the adversity in my life prepared me for this assignment, and I was exactly where I needed to be. In the end, I was able to make some of the most profound connections and lifelong friendships while in London. I focused on giving all I had to the team and being authentic, empathetic, and present. Together, we found a common purpose that we could all drive toward. At the end of my first year there, the UK was at the top of the leaderboard for EMEA. I have love in my heart for the team I left behind and the conviction that they will thrive and continue to be successful.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
When I first began selling at the age of nineteen, before I knew or thought about how to make a human connection and be present, I was selling measurement equipment for the printed circuit board business. I was meeting with a manager of the product line. I introduced myself and quickly went into my “pitch,” showing him all the benefits of my newest product. I was on fire, hitting all the key features and benefits, sure that I impressed him with my demonstration of the results he would get if he would buy my product. After I finally took a breath and asked him what he thought, he looked at me and explained that he was blind and could not see what I was showing him. I completely missed that he was wearing sunglasses indoors or had a walking stick in the corner of his office. Nor did I notice that he was not engaged with my pitch. Needless to say, the rest of the meeting did not go well and ended quickly with me leaving embarrassed. I laugh about this now as I look back and keep that memory to remind me to always focus on making a human connection in every interaction, be curious, and embrace a servant mindset.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person whom you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have made it my goal to engage with many mentors both personally and professionally throughout my life. Above all, my dad was my role model for how to be your best self every day. A Navy man, he was part of the greatest generation. He never graduated from high school yet managed to work his way up from driving a truck to holding an executive position at one of the largest government contractors in the country. My dad battled cancer most of his adult life, from when I was a teenager to when he ultimately lost that battle when he was seventy-seven years old. He was the beacon for me, showing me how to overcome adversity and build my resilience muscle. He modeled for me as I watched him suffer inside but always show up for others with a positive mindset.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
Today with social media and the speed at which life happens, we are all focused more on ourselves than others. We take pride in the ability to multitask and have trouble being present and mindful of those around us. We are seeing more and more examples of road rage, air rage, and people living in fear rather than faith. Most of us live in a fight or flight situation where anxiety and stress are at an all-time high. For example, we are seeing some of the highest rates of depression, suicide, and drug addiction among young people, showing no signs of improving. I believe we are in a World Happiness Crisis, and it is time to take massive action.
Can you share with our readers your 5 strategies to live with more Joie De Vivre? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Meditate — Start each day with either meditation, quiet, or reflection focusing on gratitude. If you are in a grateful state, it is impossible to be angry or have anxiety. Starting your day off in the right mindset will make all the difference. Life will still disappoint and surprise you, but you will be able to handle it when you are in the right mindset.
- Surrender — Before you can thrive again, you need to give in, not give up. Without this step, you will struggle and never get to your new purpose. The key here is to pivot and move forward in a new direction with a new purpose and perspective. I use a simple formula from my good friend Russ Rausch of Vision Pursue. S.E.E. — Separate your emotions; it is just your brain letting you know that you have them. Embrace your feelings, thank your brain for letting you know they exist, and finally, Evaluate, surrender, and move forward with a new purpose and perspective.
- Develop a growth mindset — Work on yourself to get better, level up, never stop learning and growing. Stretch yourself to exceed your goals. Do in one year what you think you can do in two. Push yourself to break through your limiting beliefs and go beyond your wildest dreams. Take massive action toward creating your amazing life.
- Give back and be present — Get out of yourself and serve others. Pick up the phone and call an old friend, reconnect with someone from your past and let them know how much you appreciate them. When you are serving others, you are in a beautiful state. Be present for those around you. Live a dog’s life. Focus on the present and enjoy that moment to the fullest. If you take your dog on a walk, he is only thinking of the sun, the trees, the moment, and how grateful he is to be with his owner on a walk. In contrast, we are on the same walk while on the phone, texting, responding to emails, and missing the moment, missing the opportunity to be present.
- Ask for help — Always be willing to reach out for help and get mentors. Surround yourself with the inspired, the excited, and the grateful people in your life. If you don’t have them, seek them out and find them. Accept grace and look for those God moments when the universe gives you exactly what and whom you need when you need it.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
I am a student of The Robbins Research Institute and Tony Robbins, which has inspired me and given me the tools to be the best version of myself every day. I also follow Simon Sinek, Gabby Bernstein, Les Brown, Eckhart Tolle, Brene’ Brown, to name a few. I am an avid troller of Ted Talks centered around mindset, overcoming adversity, and mental health. I read at least three or four books at the same time. I am currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, Grit-The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, Sparked by Jonathan Fields, Selling with a Noble Purpose by Lisa McLeod, and Physical Intelligence-How to Harness Your Bodies Untapped Intelligence to Achieve More, Stress Less, and Live More Happily by Claire Dane. I am also currently reading; Be Unexpected by Marva Bailer; she talks about the importance of the human connection and how to be unexpected and memorable. I do daily meditation centered around gratitude and apps like Vision Pursue that reinforce the ability to overcome adversity, control the controllable, and expect the expected in life. I use the app NuCalm daily to ensure that I stay in a parasympathetic state versus sympathetic, which helps me stay balanced. I strive to have a growth mindset based on continuous learning and being comfortable being uncomfortable.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Make living in a beautiful state non-negotiable” Rob Swymer.
For me, this is a mindset that starts at the top. If I can focus on being positive, letting go of those things that I cannot control, and being grateful for all I have, then the rest of my body and soul will follow. By making this non-negotiable, I chose to make that a daily decision one day at a time. We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. Ultimately, the state you choose to be in dictates the quality of your life.
“Life is happening for you, not to you,” Tony Robbins.
I am so grateful for the adversity in my life and wouldn’t trade any of it for life with none. As I went through my share and built up my resilience muscle, I realized that each challenge was getting me ready for the next. I do believe that life is happening for me, not to me. I am not a victim; I learned from each experience and came through it with a higher purpose. In the end, adversity is a gift.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
One of my core values is to give back contribute. I am involved in many charities focused on the underprivileged, world hunger, and education. I am recently involved with Young Minds, a global charity centered around mental health, specifically young adults. In the end, I live my life to serve those around me and to help them live in a beautiful state.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, I will be launching my debut book on April 25 here in the US. The title of the book is Surrender to Your Adversity: How to Conquer Adversity, Build Resilience, and Move Toward Your Life’s Purpose. I hope that my story of adversity will help others somehow. I am just a regular guy who went through his share of stuff and came out with a new purpose and perspective. I wrote this book to give back some of what I learned and help others along the way. With a wounded healer mindset, I hope to reach others going through some of the challenges I have faced in my 60-plus years on this earth.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
“World Connection Day” — A day with no social media, no Instagram posts, no Facebook, Twitter, tik tok, and no distractions. A focus on making a human connection with those around us. I would encourage people to call or walk with a friend, have coffee, and reconnect. A day that we are all seen heard, known, and valued. For one day, we can all be present, practice mindfulness and for just 24 hours — make a genuine human connection.
Thank you for these excellent insights!
Author Rob Swymer of Surrender to Your Adversity: How to Live with Joie De Vivre, Even When It… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.