Resilience is the capability to recover from a challenge. Your ability to bounce back and get back into the game. Another misconception of resilience is the Teflon phenomenon. Something hits you and doesn’t affect you, it bounces off of you, water off a duck’s back, that kind of thing. Neither one of these are wrong, but I like to add to them. First off, challenge, hardship and stress are often — and I would say most of the times — necessary for growth. That’s the law of nature. Hence, to me, resilience means the ability to experience a challenge, grow from it and then go further faster, once you’ve learned that lesson.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joseph McClendon III.
Joseph McClendon III has a Doctorate in Neuropsychology and is one of the most sought-after Ultimate Performance Specialists in the industry. Having delivered hundreds of workshops to over 5 million people around the globe and coached celebrity actors, athletes, CEOs and even royalty, Joseph has perfected the ability to create rapid personal change that effectively moves people to take more consistent action with their personal and business achievements. At his core, Joseph is an expert in coaching business professionals to overcome behaviors and inner and outer obstacles that may impede their results and affect their bottom line, and now he licenses and certifies others to do the same, using his proprietary methodology and programs. Joseph’s just-launched legacy program now equips students of the Neuroencoding Institute with his cutting-edge methods, so anyone, anywhere in the world may become a licensed and certified Neuroencoding Specialist.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I came to do what I do right now by the will of my father and some fortunate situations. For my father, it was extremely important that we had an education, as he didn’t grow up with one. We had to get good grades and stay in school. As a matter of fact, his saying was, “you’ve got to stay in school and keep a good job or you’ll be digging ditches.” My father grew up during the depression, so he stressed the importance of having an education for all my sisters and myself. I understood the deep need to grow until a devastating experience altered my entire state of being at just seventeen and a half years old.
I was just a kid, minding my own business, riding my motorcycle from Los Angeles to San Jose one day to visit my father and sister. Unfortunately, on that particular evening, I had neglected to tighten the rear chain on my bike and it came flying off the sprocket, leaving the bike out of control. Coasting to a stop, I pulled into a closed gas station nearby to make the necessary repairs. I had been there for about half an hour when an old Chevy pickup truck appeared with three grown men inside. For a split second I thought they had stopped to help me, but all I can remember now is them charging at me, all at once, kicking and punching me in the face and ribs with rage and hate. I felt hopeless, scared and furious at the same time. The experience devastated me. It took my pride and the values I had grown up with away from me. Quite honestly, the beating was bad, but the things that they said to me damaged my psyche. I know now that was where the most harm was done and, as a result, I became homeless. I ended up living in a cardboard box behind an old driving theatre. Without knowing it back then, that was actually the genesis of my journey into resilience and personal growth.
What changed my life and what brought me to where I am right now, was a random act of kindness from a random stranger. A kind individual who gave me a book called Think and Grow Rich. I read the book and, most importantly, I did the exercises, and it changed my life. Then I went back to the gentleman to thank him and asked him, “How do I repay you, because what you’ve done has changed my life.” What he said was, “Well, Joseph, you repay me by doing the same thing that I’ve done for you for as many people as you can, for the rest of your life.” Those words set me on the path of helping others and I found my calling. I went back to my education, started learning more about people, and I got the empowerment ‘bug,’ if you will.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
The one that comes to mind is my very first therapy session. I had my formal education back then, and I also became certified in Hypnotherapy, Neurolinguistic Programming and Neuro-Associative Conditioning. I was so excited, I had such a fistful of tools, I learned and practiced all these skills, but I hadn’t really worked with anybody before. On the other hand, some of my other friends who went to school were already working full-time, seeing patients, and even had their own private practices open. I remember I would always tell them about this new process I had learned to cure phobias and things like that, and they would always respond to me saying that that was ‘pop psychology’ and that that stuff didn’t really work — at least, long term.
But, as we were talking about patients over lunch one day, one of my friends said, “Well, if those techniques you’ve learned work so well, then we’re going to give you somebody to work with.” So they did. They connected me to a patient who suffered from agoraphobia — which is the fear of open places and being around people. This young man — I think he was about 26 years old at the time — hadn’t left his house for seven years. He was completely incapacitated up to the extent where his own mother would have to come over and take care of him every day.
One afternoon, I went over to this young man’s house — because he obviously couldn’t come outside — and I talked to him through a slot, 6 inches big, with the chain across the door. It took me several minutes just to get him to show his face because he was hiding behind the door. The tricky thing with agoraphobia — as with other types of phobias and anxiety — is that the less you face your fears, the more they fester and get worse. Hence, the best way of overcoming fears and phobias is to face them head on — something my young patient had no knowledge of at the time.
To cut a long story short, within an hour and a half — I was slow in those days — I had the young man out of his house and in the mall, of all places! You should have seen how ecstatic he was. He was running around the place and looked a bit odd to everyone there, but he didn’t care. He went from terrified to leave his house with crippling panic to being able to enjoy walks outdoors and even go to the mall. It was at that moment that I realized Neurolinguistic Programming was powerful. It is really powerful. It made me realize that NLP was something I wanted to become expert in, to help other people make empowering differences in their lives. Again, the ‘bug’ hit me even harder, and that’s why I decided to use Neuroencoding to help as many people as I possibly could.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
First of all, let me explain what Neuroencoding is. Neuroencoding is the tendency to program, or encode, ourselves to automatically default to our best psychology (how we think), our best emotions (how we feel), and our best behaviors (what we do). Nothing is left to chance, so we can decide how we are going to think, feel and do, as well as sense the results that we are going to get.
In other words, whatever we think at any given moment — consciously or unconsciously — affects how we feel. Whatever we feel affects what we do. And whatever we do determines the results that we get. It’s really that simple. We are the products of our thoughts, emotions and consistent behaviors. When we learn to master our emotions by conditioning our thoughts to look for options and opportunities, we encode a resourceful default behavior within ourselves, thereby attracting abundance into our life.
In this light, I think that what makes the Neuroencoding Institute stand out in the market comes down to three main things. Number one is that we have the ability to answer the questions and solve the problems of the masses, because everybody wants to be wealthy — holistically understood as being healthy, happy and financially abundant. However, there are several things that stop us: inhibitions and fears, procrastination, hesitation, fear of failure, fear of success, self-doubt, self-loathing and even impostor syndrome. These are the thieves of our dreams and they run rampant in most people who learn to sedate them with drugs and alcohol, television and Netflix, or any other thing that suppresses those sensations — even if just for a moment. So, if you have the ability to help people get past those things, then you can answer the challenges of the masses. That’s number one of what separates us.
Number two is that we teach people to gain awareness and develop the ability to not only administer change within themselves, but also to facilitate other people in transforming their lives as well. As I like to say, “Physician heal thyself first,” because the secondary purpose of Neuroencoding is to use what you’ve learned to help others get the changes that they want, and produce results in and for other people.
Last but not least, the third, extraordinary element of Neuroencoding is its ability to teach you exactly how to present in a way that influences people to take those steps towards change. Knowledge is not power — we’ve heard this hundreds of thousands of times. Knowledge is only potential power. We all know how to lose weight, but we don’t do it because we don’t engage in the activities that will help us lose weight. It’s activity that makes the biggest difference. So those are the three things that not only separate us, but also make Neuroencoding doable, usable, learnable and applicable by anybody.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Truthfully, I’ve had — and still have — hundreds of people I’m grateful for, and all of them have given me a piece of their lives, time and energy, but there are two that stick out the most: My original mentors, my mother and my father. I like to say that they were, unknowingly, the first Neuroencoders.
In fact, in my latest book, Dare to Be Magnificent, I wrote about my father and the five pillars that he stressed and taught us, which are the foundations of how I live. Number one is integrity, which means do what you say you are going to do. If you make a promise to anybody — and those promises go all the way down to “I’m going to be there at ten o’clock” — do what you say you’re going to do. Be an honest, good person and keep your word. Number two is tenacity. My father would always say that tenacity is a big word which means continue to do what you said you were going to do, no matter what. That includes your discipline and the promises you make every day. Third thing is energy. Energy, in my father’s eyes, was health; taking care of yourself and your body so that you have the energy to go faster and stronger than anybody else. When challenges show up in your life, if you feel tired and don’t want to do something, most of the time it’s because you don’t have the mental and the physical energy to follow through. So energy is really important. The fourth thing is kindness, which is related to helping people to make a difference in their lives. Reach one and teach one. Be kind, empathetic and sympathetic to other people‘s plights and challenges. Help others as much as you can. And the last one is joy. Laugh, enjoy your life, and be a joyful person.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I believe that giving meaning to words and phrases makes a difference. If you give resilience a meaning that helps you think better, feel better and move better, it doesn’t necessarily imply throwing away the old meaning, you can sometimes just add to it.
Technically, resilience is the capability to recover from a challenge. Your ability to bounce back and get back into the game. Another misconception of resilience is the Teflon phenomenon. Something hits you and doesn’t affect you, it bounces off of you, water off a duck’s back, that kind of thing. Neither one of these are wrong, but I like to add to them. First off, challenge, hardship and stress are often — and I would say most of the times — necessary for growth. That’s the law of nature. Hence, to me, resilience means the ability to experience a challenge, grow from it and then go further faster, once you’ve learned that lesson. What this means is — going back to Neuroencoding — to train yourself when a challenge happens to automatically default to your best thinking, feeling and behavior. That’s a skill. When you do it once, then you don’t have to remind yourself again, it happens automatically. That’s the programming and encoding part.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
I would say courage is the precursor or the trigger in the foundation of resilience. We’re all resilient from the time we are conceived. The sperm cell has to fight its way to get to the egg. When it gets there, it still has to fight to create division and turn the cell into two cells, then into four and so on.
Moreover, there’s a difference between courage and bravery. Bravery is in the moment. That is, we are being brave in the moment, which means we have to step up to a certain challenge and do something quickly. On the other hand, we have courage. It’s inside all of us. It is something that runs inside of us as an operating system. We own courage, we possess it. So, with regards to resilience — if we’re going to take my definition of it as an automatic default behavior — then resilience is the key to default to being optimistic, as opposed to pessimistic, when something happens. Being optimistic is being aware of, and thinking about, your options. “As you seek, so shall you find.” And my saying is, “As you seek, so shall it find you.” Meaning, options will show up if you look for them.
Take me, for instance. Prior to the pandemic, you would find me speaking live, internationally, in front of 15 to 20 thousand people every month on how to take consistent action to trigger personal change. That’s how I make my living. Indeed, back in March 2020, my calendar was fully booked till the end of 2021 with seminars, at least, once or twice a month. Then Covid hit and those events started to drop off my calendar. One day — I remember the date perfectly, March 15th, 2020 — as I was sitting in my office, I got a phone call from one of my promoters — I think he was from Singapore — who said we had to cancel the rest of our upcoming events. I agreed because gigs had been canceling left and right up until then. However, that meant there were no more events for me, and my calendar got completely cleared.
To be honest, I paradoxically panicked for a moment. I got really fearful for a couple of seconds and I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “What am I going to do now?” I was terrified! Something came over me. BUT — because I had encoded myself to automatically default to my best options, and my best behavior — I immediately ran into my bathroom, took a deep breath, put a smile on my face, looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Joseph, what do we get to do now?”
I went back to my office, sat down and made a list of things I could do. As a result, I wrote a new book, created the studio gear, started doing virtual events, and created the Neuroencoding Institute, which is my legacy project. All of those results came from encoding a resilient, optimistic default.
People — myself included — are faced with challenges, big and small, every single day. When we have that automatic ability I mentioned before, challenges become the trigger to cause us to be better people. Then life moves further faster, we help other people, and make a bigger difference in the world.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I keep going back to my original mentors, and for this one I’d have to say my mum.
In 1988, my mum was diagnosed with terminal intestinal cancer. During that time, she went through a lot, with the chemotherapy and all its side effects. My mum was already resilient and a very strong woman, but let me give you an example of those days. When my mum started getting her chemo and her hair started falling out, instead of waiting for her whole hair to fall out, she went to a barbershop and had her head shaved. She bought a wig and a wig stand, and took pictures of the different wigs to put on her. Now this was in the olden days, long before social media made vulnerability and exposure a constant feature of everyday life. My mum wanted to get ahead and take care of all this as soon as possible so as to avoid the trauma behind the loss of her hair. She was always preemptive and did things ahead of time. She would say, “Here’s what I’ve learned from this. You don’t fail unless you quit. But if you’ve learned something, then you’ve succeeded.”
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I could tell you a thousand stories! The one that sticks out is when I was in college. I had a lot going on. I was going to school as full-time as I could, working eight hours a day as a demo technician, trying to have a relationship with my girlfriend, and I was also a musician playing in bands and nightclubs. I was up to my eyes with work, and — on top of that — I was broke! I didn’t have any money, and that sure didn’t sit well with anything across the board.
Then one day, back in 1984, I saw an infomercial on television about a guy named Robert Allen. He was one of the first people who taught others how to invest in real estate and flip houses. I saw his infomercial and wanted to attend his event. I didn’t have any money so I went out and started collecting Coke bottles, bought some stencils, knocked on people’s doors asking if I could spray their number on the curb in front of their house, and charged them 5 bucks if they agreed. After a couple of months, I’d saved enough money to go to Robert Allen’s seminar. However, all of my friends — my musician friends, my girlfriend, even my boss — would say to me, “Don’t go there, you’re wasting your time.” But I wasn’t raised fearing other people’s opinions. I was raised with tenacity and discipline, so I went to the course.
Mr. Allen’s plan was that if you buy two houses a year for ten years, at the end of ten years, you’ll have at least ten houses and those ten houses will bring you a certain amount of money per month. I think it was like 5,000 dollars a month and, of course, the equity of the houses. I didn’t have that kind of time. I wanted to get wealthy fast. So I went to Robert and said, straight to his face, “Listen, your plan is two houses a year for ten years. What if I do ten houses a year for two years?” And he laughed at me and said, “Well, of course that’ll work,” but I could tell from the look on his face that he thought I would never make it, even though he didn’t say so then.
When I told all of my friends what I was going to do, all of them said, “Impossible. You don’t have the time, the money, etc.,” but — as I said — I never operated according to other people’s fears and limitations. I always felt pulled, internally, to get the outcomes that I wanted, and in those days it was to quit my job so I could become a musician.
Long story short, in a year and a half, I purchased twenty-six houses, and I still benefit from that venture to this day. Again, I think it’s important for people to recognize that there’s a difference between doing it to prove it to somebody versus doing it to get your desired outcome.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
What’s so interesting is I’m trying to think of a situation when this happened, but because I encoded myself to look for possible options, my brain won’t go there…Though there is indeed a fairly recent setback that, looking back, I can’t help but feel incredibly grateful for.
I was away at an event and some burglars broke into my home while I was gone. They stole everything that was material from me, which I valued dearly — my family photos, my prized, bass guitar that I’d built, some cash, my watch collection, recordings of my mum who has passed, any and everything of value I had in a big gun safe in my house. These guys came in and tore the safe out of the ground, destroyed my house, and caused almost a quarter of a million dollars in damage to my house. But most importantly, I lost all my stuff. That was a huge setback, probably one of the biggest setbacks in the last ten years. When the police called me and told me what had happened, I was devastated because I knew I’d never see pictures of my mum again or hear her voice. Those were all material things, but what happened for me — as terrible as that was and as I look at it now — was that it was ten thousand pounds of pressure that I didn’t even know was there. It’s not that I don’t like nice stuff — because I do — it’s just that I’m not attached to material things anymore. And when something devastating like that happens to me now, I’m Teflon, I’m resilient. Where I grew from there was the realization that “Ok, that was an episode, and those were material things.” My reframing of that episode is that now all of those memories are still in my head. That was a growth experience and I feel stronger as a result. Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to have my stuff back, but I feel stronger as a result.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
When I was in high school, at the age of 14 or 15 years old, I was a wrestler. I’d worked very hard for some time to train for my first wrestling match. My whole family had come to see me compete; I can remember it as if it was yesterday. I was so nervous, everybody was in the bleachers, and when I went out there and locked up with the person, he pinned me within ten seconds. Seriously — he wiped me out! I was embarrassed, devastated and I wanted to quit. I remember looking at my dad and not quite being able to read the look on his face. Later on, I found out he was feeling sorry and sympathizing with me. But at that moment, I felt like I’d disappointed him. I then had to sit through the rest of everybody else’s wrestling — because I was one of the firsts — and face through the ridicule of my teammates.
But the best part was when I returned home that evening. My whole family had bought me a cake to celebrate my very first wrestling match. I remember my dad saying, “Hey, dude, it’s all up from here.” Just that alone made all the difference. It made me feel supported. It made me realize that this too shall pass; that it was just the beginning, and that I would grow from it. These are the lessons we know are not prominent in our thoughts when we’re challenged.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
The forthright answer to this question is to learn the skill of programming yourself to default to your chosen best self. In order to achieve this, there are some steps you have to follow. Number one, determine how you want to be the person you want to be. Meaning, find somebody that you admire and that you want to model because that gives you a living, breathing representation of your outcome. Find those people and write down the attributes you want, that those people have. Step number two is to practice it or rehearse it. This means rehearsing who you wish to become. In the rehearsal process, you gradually become different. Step number three is to acknowledge your progress or lack thereof. This means that, along the way, I want you to stop and acknowledge yourself for how far you’ve come or the difference you’ve made. Step number four is to adjust yourself along the way. If something happens and you’re resilient in the traditional way — meaning you’ve got the ability to bounce back — it means you didn’t learn anything. Sometimes, what we were doing is what produced the challenge in the first place. So if you take a minute to ask yourself what you learned from a given situation, you can find out what needs adjusting or doing differently this time. It’s not how many times you get knocked down or how many times you pick yourself back up. It’s what you do while you’re down there that will make the difference. In other words, when you get knocked down, you have to observe what just happened, what happened before, what it is that you can do differently and what would make things better. So next time when you get knocked down, look around, and then when you get back up, duck! Step number five is to develop the habit of praising yourself, of giving yourself credit and recognition for how far you’ve come. Praise, love and kindness are the emotions that make your nervous system release dopamine, which encourages us to want to do more of that activity. To me, this last step is the icing on the cake of encoding yourself.
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. :-)
This question is precisely the reason why I created the Neuroencoding Institute. You see, inspiration is great. But influence and empowerment are even better. Inspiration means you feel good in that moment for that moment. On the other hand, influence means you are impacted into doing something, and taking some action. To be empowered means you have your own internal pull. You don’t rely upon anything else, it’s something inside of you. Drive is great, but pull is better. Would you rather be dragged, kicking and screaming from your past or genuinely pulled into the future by your own needs and desires?
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
Well, yes, there are. It can’t be just one person. But let me pre-frame this answer by saying this: I’m at a stage in my career — which is the reason I created Neuroencoding — that I want to pass on the steel to as many people as I possibly can. I see there are a few people who are influential already and are already magnificent at what they do, so I’d love to give this to them. These three people are Steve Harvey, Will Smith and Kevin Hart. Of course, there are more people, but these are just the ones that come to my mind right now. These people are entrenched in inspiring others and giving them hope and advice. However, my foundational belief is this: everyone loves quotes, sayings and inspirational stories, and everybody will agree with the advice that is given as the foundation of that quote. Yet many people may not know how to put the advice from those quotes into practice. They may be lacking in certain attributes — such as courage or tenacity — or they might just be afraid. So, what I’m saying is, let’s tell people how to put motivation into practice as well. It’s a topic I’d love to discuss alongside a meal with those three gentlemen, and share what I have with them.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can go to www.josephmcclendon.com to learn more about who I am and what I do. In terms of social media, I’m most interactive on Instagram @iamjosephmcclendon and also on Twitter @JosephMcClendon. All of the details of my recently launched legacy program, The Neuroencoding Institute, can be found at www.neuroencoding.com. It’s a fully-resourced, expertly sourced program (and it’s truly made for everyone!) so please check it out and feel free to contact me on social media!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!