The Resilience Games

Here at Peptalk, we are impatient. We want quick, fast, effective results and we want them now. We are constantly on the lookout for the next “sneaky 30 second health hack” that will transform people’s lives forever with absolutely zero effort.

We are also on the lookout for the weekly winning euromillions numbers, calorie burning pizza, a Westlife tune that isn’t a hit and a Limerick person who doesn’t love hurling. If you find any of them, please let us know, because everything we’ve read or researched suggests they don’t exist. [Note from the editor : PepTalk would like to distance ourselves from all Westlife commentary]

The unfortunate reality is this. Real change takes time, and it’s not always easy. It would be great if it was different, but it doesn’t appear to be. In order to create meaningful, sustainable behavioural change in any aspect of life, there is no substitute for putting in the time. Committing to anything over time usually means a few things. It means hanging in there and persevering when times are tough. It means being prepared and giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed. It means keeping the foot down when things are going well, and (YET EQUALLY) not getting too far ahead of yourself. Essentially, whatever your personal definition is, it really just means being resilient.

At Peptalk, Resilience plays a big role in our wellbeing programme. In fact, so much so that we have a specific four week block dedicated solely to the topic. We call it ‘The Resilience Games’ [think the movie ‘The Hunger Games’ with much less death and sans Jennifer Lawrence].

These games were led by Kevin McManamon. Aside from being a sports psychology consultant, multiple All-Ireland winning footballer, and a very tidy trad singer, Kev is also an incredibly insightful thinker across the board. A very interesting character to listen and learn from. Probably the most important thing that I took away from the last few weeks was actually a little bit of a selfish one. It made me question myself. It made me question my own personal definition of Resilience, and more importantly forced me to revisit and re-evaluate if I am consistently living it. Because I know the components that in theory make a ‘resilient person’. I know the information that the literature and the research tell us help to build resiliency. But knowing and doing are two very different things.

As the Head of Program Design here at Peptalk, I try to keep focused on making sure everything we do here has real impact and meaning. Otherwise, what’s the point in being a wellbeing company? It’s why we do what we do at Peptalk. The process of creating/designing ‘The Resilience Games’ has forced me to step back and look the tools and strategies that I use to build and maintain my personal Resilience. Both physically and mentally. The truth that emerged was that I probably took the foot-off-the-gas on a few things, others I’m doing ok in, and there’s some that I feel I’m on top of.


Foot off the pedal on this one. This job is my first ‘real job’ since retiring as a professional rugby player. In reality, I spent a lot of my last career either injured or on the bench. Back then I found a lot of my confidence from working hard on my fitness/strength and taking care of my nutrition. It was enjoyable to me. I would tell myself that if I was on top of that, I was prepared. Even if I was injured, or not getting selected in the team, I would remain positive. My self-talk was constructive, but most importantly I believed it. It was credible.

Now that I’m retired from that career, my work no longer technically requires me to be fit and strong. So that’s what I tell myself. My self-talk has now changed. But the problem is I don’t believe it. It’s not credible to me. I make excuses as to why I’m not as fit as I was, when in reality I’m only 30. Tom Brady is 41 and just won his 6th Superbowl. Peter Stringer is the same age and is in just downright silly shape. So aside from a slightly dodgy ankle, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be taking care of myself the way I did. It starts with my self-talk.


As funny as it sounds (no pun intended) humour can play a huge role in building one’s resilience. Charlie Chaplin once said that “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it.” Humour is an area of Resilience that can sometimes be a little dark, and scary to look at, but can be very therapeutic and cathartic. I do tend to tap in to this on quite a regular basis. Not because I’m funny myself. Quite the opposite in fact. Many of my friends (and all of my enemies) would attest to how cringey and cheesy I can be. But I do use humour to bolster my day if it’s been a rough one. If you want a real-life example of this, I highly recommend giving ‘Afterlife’, Ricky Gervais’ new comedy on Netflix a watch.


Kev Mc spoke to our clients about ‘Gratitude Journaling’ as part of our programme. He speaks about how simply writing down a few small items of what you’re grateful for on a daily/weekly basis can be a very effective tool for building resilience. It doesn’t have to be anything big, maybe just a nice cup of tea, or that old school Westlife tune you heard on the radio that morning. Being thankful for the simple stuff in life builds resilience. I don’t write them down personally, but I leave time almost every evening to do this. It gives me perspective.


This one I’m on top of. So right now, I’m writing my blog post. And right now, whatever poor life choices have led you to this point, you’re reading it my blog post. You might hate it and or think it’s crap. That would be a pity and hopefully it’s not the case (if it is, go listen to Westlife’s no.1 debut single ‘Swear It Again” to cheer yourself up).

But Ultimately, after this is published online, I can’t control whether you like it or not. There are many things in life that I can’t control. And there are many things unfortunately in your life that you cannot control. This we must accept. Keeping perspective on what is important allows us to handle the daily battles we face in life. It also prepares us for the big stuff, the real tough, knock you off your seat stuff. Stuff a whole pile bigger and more meaningful than this blog post. Perspective prepares you for that. Perspective prepares me for that.


Above all, Resilience is about keeping going no matter what, even when you don’t want to, or don’t think you can. This quote from former NBA player Larry Bird probably sums up my approach better than all of my ramblings.

‘I’ve got a theory that if you give 100% of your effort, all of the time, things will somehow work out in the end’

Cathal Sheridan

Head of Program Design @ PepTalk

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At PepTalk, engagement is at the heart of all our wellbeing platform. Our platform is about energy, passion and fun while being grounded in key business outcomes. To find out more about this area and our wider PepTalk offering book a demonstration at or email

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