Review – “The Survivor’s Club” by Ben Sherwood

Review – “The Survivor’s Club” by Ben Sherwood

What would you do in an emergency? Would you freeze? Would you calmly take stock of your predicament? Would you wait for someone to let you know what to do next? These are all questions that we ask ourselves and the answer to them all is – you won’t really know until something bad happens to you. What you can know ahead of time is – what does it take to survive?  What type of survivor are you? You’ll find the answers to some of these questions in “The Survivor’s Club”.

I was incredibly intrigued by this book. I wondered – would it provide me with a blueprint to survive disaster? In short – no, it didn’t. But it did give me some truly inspirational stories of people overcoming adversity. It also gave me a look at what some of the traits are that survivors share. Finally, after taking a quick online test, it told me what type of survivor I am. Curious? More on me later.

“The Survivor’s Club” poses some interesting questions along the way to laying out what it takes to survive. For example – why do right-handed people live longer than left-handed people? (As a lefty, not a great place to start for me…). Can you make your own luck, or are you born with it? What’s the highest altitude anyone has ever fallen from, without a parachute, and lived? How old is the oldest tree on the planet, and how has it survive for so long? Where is the best place in America to suffer a heart attack? Can having bad initials (B.A.D., S.I.N, D.E.D., etc.) lead to a shorter life?

Sherwood weaves the answers to these questions (and more) together with personal stories from survivors and scientific research; creating a compelling narrative. Its hard no to be drawn in to the personal accounts of such tragedy and pain that ultimately led to such overarching promise and hope. It can be a scary book, to be sure; but I found it to be more hopeful than depressing.

It’s very tempting to outline all that you can learn from this book – but I want to encourage you to pick it up and read it for yourself. I will, however, share two things with you that lingered with me.  First is the “Rule of 3” as shared with the author by the Air Force. This rule is designed to help you prioritize your survival needs:

The Rule of Three states that you CANNOT survive:

3 Seconds without Spirit and Hope

3 Minutes without air

3 Hours without shelter in extreme conditions

3 Days without water

3 Weeks without food

3 Months without Companionship or Love

The second is a quick list of ten things that you need to do in order to develop resilience – the ability to recover mentally and/or physically after hardship or trauma. While it offers a succinct and insightful roadmap to becoming more resilient, I think it also offers some good advice on how to live your life in general:

1. Practice optimism

2. Identify a resilient role model

3. Develop a moral compass and unbreakable beliefs

4. Practice altruism

5. Develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility

6. Face your fears and learn to control negative emotions

7. Build active coping skills to handle your problems

8. Establish a supportive social network to help you

9. Stay physically fit

10. Laugh as much as you can

When all is said and done, the book asks – what type of survivor are you? Sherwood lays our five broad archetypes: The Fighter, The Believer, The Connector, The Thinker, and The Realist. I won’t explain them all here, but I know you are dying to know – what type of survivor is our beloved reviewer? The answer is – I’m a Believer. (I’ll pause for a moment and allow you to sing along with “The Monkees” in your head…). I wasn’t sure what to think when I took the quiz, but I have to say – I think it got me right. When reading through the description of the Believer, this is what stuck with me:

Your beliefs and convictions are like the life preservers keeping you above water in difficult times. You can find humor in the darkest of times and even laugh in the face of adversity. Even in the worst times, you feel blessed and are confident that things always work out for the best.

I can think of far worse ways to go through life.

© 2010, The Word Zombie. All rights reserved.

One Reply to “Review – “The Survivor’s Club” by Ben Sherwood”

  1. I stumbled across this book, not ever having heard about it, and I began to read it and found myself hurrying my chores so I could get back to reading it. I really love this book, and I am grateful to the author who wrote it. Thank you Mr. Sherwood for writing this book. I really mean it. Connie B.

Leave a Reply