July 15, 2012

Resilient To The Core

I circled back to an article that I saved away for the last 10 years (5 years before I started blogging and practically before it really even existed)!

It is from Harvard Business Review and it is called How Resilience Works (May 2002). 

It is an incredible article about what differentiates the person that falls apart and seemingly gives up under immense stress and those that use it as a stepping stone to future success and greatness. 

Resilience is "the skill and capacity to be robust under conditions of enormous stress and change."

Literally, resilience means "bouncing back," perhaps versus jumping throw a plate glass wall from the 50th story. 

Everyone has their tests in life--whether loss, illness, accident, abuse, incarceration, poverty, divorce, loneliness, and more. 

But resilience is how we meet head-on these challenges, and it "can be learned."

The article looks at individual and organizational "survivors" of horrible things like the Holocaust, being a prisoner of war (POW), and terrorist attacks such as 9/11, and basically attributes resilience to three main things:

1) Acceptance--rather than slip into denial, dispair, or wishful-thinking, resilience means we see the situation exactly for what it is and make the most of it--or as they say, "make lemonade out of lemons."

2) Meaning--utilizing a strong system of values, we find meaning and purpose even in the darkest of situations--even if it is simply to learn and grow from it!

3) Ingenuity--this is capacity to invent, improvise, imagine possibilities, make do with what you have, and generally solve-problems at hand. 

Those who accept, find meaning, and improvise can succeed, where others fail. 

Now come forward a decade in time, and another article at CNN (9 July 2012) called Is Optimism Really Good For You? comes to similar conclusions.

The article describes how optimism works for an individual or an organization only when it is based on "action, common sense, resourcefulness, and considered risk-taking."

"It's the opposite of defeatism"--we recognize that there are things not in our control and that don't always turn out well, but we use that as an opportunity to come back and find a "different approach" and solve the problem. 

The article calls this "action-oriented optimists" and I like this concept--it is not blind hope nor is it giving-up, but rather it is a solid recognition that we can do and must do our part in this world. 

Fortune Magazine summed this up well in an article a few months back as follows--There are three kinds of people: "those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those wonder how the heck it happened."

When things happen in your life--to you--which of these types of people will you be? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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