What Is Resilience And What Does It Mean

Resilience is a term that has been around for a while now, and I strongly believe that resilience is a skill we must embed in our younger generation. Before we dig deep into what resilience means and what it looks like, we must understand the difference between resilience and stubbornness.

Stubbornness is resistance to change. It is defined by phrases like “this is how we have always done things”. Stubborn people, teams, and organisations have a set path, a fixed set of processes, and a fixed mindset. They have no room for deviation. The usual response for doing something different is “we cannot” or “why”.

Resilience on the other hand, is being responsive to change. When things around them change, resilient people, teams and organisations respond accordingly, by changing their strategy in response to the change. This makes them more aligned to their goal, a bit like tacking, when one is sailing. Resilience is the characteristic that enables us to do what we must, to survive, grow and prosper.

Resilience is nothing new to humankind. It is the most important characteristic that has driven innovation throughout our illustrious history. Earlier this year I did a talk on innovation, during which I defined innovation as any human effort or endeavour that enables us to survive, grow, prosper, and be sustainable. This has led to us discovering fire and keeping it burning, inventing the wheel, landing on the moon, and more recently, developing the vaccine against the Chinese COVID-19 virus and its global variants.

Underpinning all our innovation has been resilience. The characteristic that has ensured the survival, growth and prosperity of humankind. From being hunter-gatherers and cave dwellers, today, we are considering colonising Mars! There are four elements to resilience: survival, growth, prosperity, and sustainability.

Survival: This is fundamental. If we do not survive, everything else is moot. Survival from dangers, from competition, changing market trends and customer demands, and more recently, surviving in the wake of pandemics. Survival deals with one question only: “How do we ensure that we continue to exist?

Growth: Growth is the next step. Simply doing enough to survive becomes counter-intuitive after a point, and there is a risk of stubbornness kicking in. Growth represents numerous things to numerous entities. For people it means learnings and earnings, upward career and life trajectory, and so forth. For companies and organisations this means more revenue, more market share, more employees, and so forth. What does growth mean to you?

Prosperity: This is not just profits. This includes, things like good health and well being (physical and mental), a strong, safe, and inclusive society and community, financial freedom and a life of comfort for all.

Sustainability: This completes the circle of resilience, being responsive to change. Our world is changing. Growing population and dwindling natural resources present a challenge like none other. This, therefore, needs us to be more sustainable in everything we do, so that future generations can also survive, grow, prosper and be sustainable.

Today’s summary:

  1. Stubbornness is defined by resistance to change and resilience is defined by being responsive to change
  2. Resilience drives innovation
  3. I define innovation as any human effort or endeavour that enables us to survive, grow, prosper, and be sustainable

To know more about how to create resilient teams and organisations, get in touch with me or the clever folks at Equitus.

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