The Resilience Project is a useful read for teachers and others working with young people.
Hugh van Cuylenburg is a passionate teacher who has moved from the classroom to the keynote stage with his concept The Resilience Project.
Through some life-lessons including family horror and a working holiday in India, van Cuylenburg developed his ideas about mental-health resilience. At first used within his pastoral care program as a teacher, this soon took on a life of its own and became a very successful business, with clients such as major football teams.
And now comes the book.
This is yet another one of those works which is having an identity crisis. Part standard self-help, part memoir, and part business story, it is ultimately unsatisfying. The main demographic for this work would be those seeking self-help: for them, there will be little in here that is new. Van Cuylenburg’s philosophy anchors on three points: gratitude, empathy and mindfulness – all concepts which have permeated thought from ancient philosophers, through 12-step programs, to today’s positive psychology. This is just new packaging for an old product.
Even then, the reader has to wade through sometimes irrelevant details about his life and business. It is also awash in seemingly endless tales of cricket matches. The actual self-help chunks, although delivered with his charming enthusiasm, are disappointingly simplistic. He makes an effort to put in some research and statistics to back the otherwise anecdotal claims, but even that is minimal.
Although van Cuylenburg comes across as a likeable, genuine and compassionate writer, ultimately his book just feels like one big humble-brag.
The Resilience Project is a useful read for teachers and others working with young people, if only for the recognizable classroom anecdotes. It is also a reasonable introduction to positive psychology for those yet to discover it. Otherwise, there are much better self-help investments to be made for this price.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Rating out of 10: 5
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: November 2019