CEO and President of Atrion for over 25 years, CEO and founder of Trilix, Chief Managed Services Officer at Carousel Industries, and an active member of the Rhode Island community as a national speaker, writer, mentor through Rhode Island’s Academy of Career Exploration, a Director of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, and a board member for several non-profits including Boy Scouts of America-Narragansett Council, Tech Collective, and Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art (RIMOSA). With a list of accolades long enough to warrant its own profile, it may surprise you to know that Tim’s understanding of resilience is deeply tied to his view of failure.
Resilience, as he describes it, often involves reframing your relationship to failure. Failure, he says, is “a good thing. I think of this as part of being resilient; you have to look at failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.” This moment, which he calls the “decisive moment” is all about facing difficult circumstances with grit and perseverance, and if you fail anyway, using that failure not to bounce back, but to instead bounce forward.
While talk of resilience tends to focus in on the ability to bounce right back, Tim emphasizes the importance of pausing in the midst of difficult situations to create moments of stillness. As a long-time scuba-diver, he thinks of his mind like a passenger on a rocking boat. When the seas in his mind are churning, instead of remaining on the boat and getting seasick, he jumps into the water. And while at first it is just as chaotic on the surface, he uses his equipment to dive down below, until he can find the calm below the storm. For him, this dive down involves moments of stillness and self-reflection that allow him to better and more objectively see the circumstances he is dealing with.
He uses this idea of space to help him better hear his inner voice and focus on what is important to him. “Instead of being distracted by obstacles, naysayers, and loud noise, I fixate on quiet moments- the seedling ideas that turn into tomorrow’s massive opportunities.” He even works these moments into his morning routine, creating 15 minutes of distraction-less space for himself to reflect every morning.
How did he find these moments of peace? Growing up, Tim lived in a dysfunctional and abusive household and had to learn practices of resilience very early on. He remembers the first time he found stillness. On a particularly bad day in his childhood, Tim remembers finding a moment of peace hiding under his bed. While just a moment of stillness, he knew that he needed to access that in himself on a more regular basis. This space from whatever the swirling storm was all around him helped him decide that he wouldn’t let his circumstances define him.
From an early age, he remembers taking an active role in shaping and growing his practices of resilience. One, in particular, he calls the 10-second mentality: the principle that he can endure anything for 10 seconds helps him remember that by breaking life into small, moment to moment chunks, he can push through some of the most difficult times in his life.
Tim’s resilience has pushed him to success in all of his endeavors, from doubling his company, Atrion’s size (while 65% of his competitors went out of business) to finishing a marathon he never thought he’d run. His mentality: not quitting the race. He does so not just by brute force, but by always pushing to train and strengthen his resilience, and making use of the practices he has to remain balanced and centered.
Resilience, as he describes, is not just a trait. It is a trained method, an active effort to pause, and wait until the noise of all of the ‘no’s’ and ‘you can’t’s’ settle into the quiet. In facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Tim says his biggest piece of advice is: “You have to believe in yourself.” While many put this phrase out there as a motivational token without really explaining how, Tim dives into the challenge of what this means and how to really do it, as exemplified by his business motto- “While there are always a thousand reasons not to believe in yourself,” and sometimes those come in louder, “you have to spend your time listening for the one reason why you should.”