When life and business are precariously stacked to work against each other, the best thing we can do is restack it all again and again.

On a retreat in October 2019, I began studying resilience and stumbled into a metaphor for a more resilient life.

Rock cairns — a group of stones carefully and often precariously piled on top of each other to create a tower.

I had heard of rock cairns and even stumbled upon a few randomly in my hikes along creeks. But it wasn’t until this several day retreat and sitting in silent meditation that I realized that our lives can be designed as a foundation of resilience just like these beautiful rock towers.

Designing a Foundation of Resilience is essential for living and leading more boldly and bravely. If we want to change systems and disrupt the status quo — as we should all be doing — we need to have the emotional resilience and physical energy to do so. 

But designing a foundation of resilience is not something we’re taught. We often figure it out too late — once a storm has hit.

In my work as a coach, I have created a foundation of resilience model that works like a charm. And the model reminds me of the rock cairns — towers that when built right are strong enough to handle anything. But when they are built incorrectly, they don’t stand a chance. 

When just one rock is misplaced, it can throw off the balance of everything else and our lives  — or our mindset — can fall apart.

When the wrong rock is chosen, we can feel less confident, and less sure of ourselves.

But when the just-right rocks are selected and stacked just right a solid foundation that can endure nearly any storm is created. 

When we can build a life with the wrong tools we can feel out of alignment. We feel shaky. Wobbly. Out of sorts. 

But when we build our lives — and businesses — based on intentional, purposeful decisions, our foundation is solid. We feel grounded and firm in who we are and what we are about, we feel strong and we can handle any storm that comes our way.

Rather than choose the wrong rocks that won’t create the right foundation, we must be intentional with each and every rock we put into our lives that create the ground we stand on each day.

What are 3 Elements to Consider when Designing a Foundation of Resilience?


Every rock you choose should bring you joy. If it doesn’t, your foundation will be out of alignment and not stable. Rocks of negative energy will disrupt your flow and your creativity. If joy is at the root of every decision you make, you can’t help but create a foundation of resilience.


The rocks of your life should bring more presence than drama, more calm than chaos, more relaxation than stress. Rocks that bring too much friction and choppiness will always cause shaky ground. Operating with mindfulness at the heart and soul of everything you do will create radical presence so you can listen and learn about what is working in your life.


The rocks of your foundation should be based thoroughly on your deepest, strongest values and strengths. As long as you always come back to what drives you and reflects your most moral obligations, you will always feel aligned. As long as you operate in flow and in your zone of genius, you will feel aligned and resilient.

Shawn Fink (she/hers) is a coach for creators & changemakers ready quit self-sabotaging & take up more space in your life, creativity and business. Host of The Brave Yes Show podcast. Learn more here.