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Former Navy SEAL: Working through hardships builds character

Author Eric Greitens talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on March 16, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer
St. Louis Public Radio
Author Eric Greitens talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Monday at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.

While he said he hasn’t committed to running for governor in Missouri, St. Louisan Eric Greitens certainly sounds like a politician.

“I’m actively considering looking at running for governor in 2016,” he told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday. Greitens is a former Navy SEAL and combat veteran, a Rhodes Scholar, a boxing champion, a humanitarian leader and founded The Mission Continues, which helps veterans adjust to life at home.

If he runs for office, Greitens will campaign on the Republican ticket. Greitens said he has set up an exploratory committee, and is talking to people to better understand issues, as well as how to lead and deliver results. “This is what I’ve been doing my whole life,” he said.

As an undergrad, Greitens spent time in Croatia and Rwanda helping war refugees. He also has worked as a humanitarian volunteer, documentary photographer and researcher in Cambodia, Albania, India, Mexico, and the Gaza Strip. Several of those photos became Greitens’ first book, “Strength & Compassion: Photographs and Essay.”

“I found that if you sat down with people, you brought people together, you talked about a common purpose, that you could actually make a real difference in people’s lives, and you could move things forward,” Greitens said.

His latest book, “Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life,” is a series of letters from Greitens to a friend and former SEAL comrade who was struggling after returning home, the death of his brother and a business failure.

“This is a book about resilience. It’s a book about how you can actually move through hardship and become better,” Greitens said. “Everybody has to deal with pain. Everybody has to deal with fear. Everybody has to deal with suffering. But if you find a way to build the virtue of resilience, there’s a way through pain to actually building wisdom.”

Building that virtue means working through hardships and struggles, instead of avoiding them, Greitens said. Those situations, like losing a job or a loved one, present opportunities for growth and help shape a person’s character in a “most profound way.”

“Resilience is the virtue that helps you get better when things are hard,” Greitens said.

Related events

Book discussion and signing with Eric Greitens

  • When: 7 p.m. Monday, March 16, 2015
  • Where: St. Louis Public Library's Central Library Auditorium, 1301 Olive St., St. Louis
  • More information

Book discussion and signing

  • When: 7 p.m. April 29, 2015
  • Where: St. Louis County Library Headquarters Auditorium, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis
  • More information

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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