Critical, too, she says, is breaking down an overwhelming problem into smaller challenges. To reduce stress, she says, focus on what you can control, no matter how small that may be. Her father, seeing how many prisoners died overnight in their sleep, told himself: I am not going to die in my sleep; I am going to wake up in the morning.
Her two aunts, she says, managed to keep their sense of humor, even amidst death. They used scrap paper to write a kind of newspaper, which they shared with other women in their barracks. In it, they made fun of the camp's guards. They offered fashion tips. "Ladies, spring is coming," they wrote, describing how they would be re-tailoring their grey striped death camp dresses. They announced menus for the coming weeks: "Monday, water and potatoes. Tuesday, potatoes and water."
Jill Klein says that after the 2008 financial crisis she noticed a growing demand for advice about resilience from business audiences. She thought of her father's struggle to survive Auschwitz and began to wonder if it might not serve as a source of inspiration and instruction.
"We started doing sessions for executives," she says, "drawing on all these coping strategies my dad used." While the lessons are implied in the book, they are stated explicitly in the sessions. She and her dad do some of these together, both of them in person. In other sessions, Klein speaks alone but shows video clips of her father.
She says she and her dad started doing the presentations a year ago and have done about a dozen so far. They speak for free to not-for-profit groups. For-profit clients pay between $6,000 and $10,000. Further information about their presentations can be found at www.wegotthewater.com.
"They see dad," says Klein, "and they say to themselves: If he got through that, I can, too."