“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change” (Charles Darwin)
A community that is connected can better adapt to change and recover from adversity. This is what makes a community resilient.
As it happens, this is what makes an individual or an organisation resilient. It is intuitively understood that a disconnected community, an alienated individual or an isolated organization will not flourish and indeed may cease to exist when the winds of change blow in. It’s not only understood but it’s backed up by stacks of academic evidence from the fields of psychology, sociology and other disciplines. It seems the more we learn about resilience, the same principles hold true for people as they do for organisations and communities.
Unforeseen events like natural disasters and climate change can devastate lives and communities. Often the most significant events that happen to us are unforeseen, unplanned for and unexpected. Even the ‘good’ events can turn out to be real challenges. You only have to look at the lives of some lottery winners and celebrities to see that resilience isn’t just about failure’, it’s about coping with ‘success’. The use of quote marks here is deliberately intended to question what counts as success and failure. That’s a discussion for another day, but it’s the dynamics of resilience that play out in the lives of individuals, organisations and communities that is fascinating. It is the idea that resilience can be learned and nurtured that is of interest to me. The question is, ‘how is that achieved?’
There are some things we know about resilience that applies to people, organisations and communities. Being connected in a positive way. That is, having win/win relationships with others. It’s not enough just ‘being connected’. Poor connections that result in win/lose relationships is more likely to undermine resilience than bolster it. It almost goes without saying that resilient individuals will go a long way to establishing resilient communities. Individuals that have learned to feel helpless and ineffective will more often than not find others with the same characteristics and outlooks to create the least resilient and most vulnerable communities.
So what do you say to individuals to help build resilience? Well here’s a ‘starter for 10’.
Look at your own wellbeing and try to be specific about any behaviours that undermine your sense of happiness and wellbeing. Take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself a few questions.
You might want to ask yourself:
- How well connected or how plugged in do I feel to what is going on around me in my neighbourhood, town or city?
- What is it that I can offer to my community that won’t necessarily give me any reward other than feeling good about the fact that I have contributed?
- What behaviours do I need to change to better look after my mental and physical health?
There is a clear role here for employers to build a more resilient workforce. A disaster recovery plan is now mandatory for any organisation serious about planning for the future. But it is equally important that steps are taken to help support workers to make sure that they have their own personal disaster recovery plan, or something like it.
Bad things will happen and that’s a fact. Those that can adapt will survive and flourish. That too is a fact. If you would like to know more about the work we do then please get in touch. Click here to find out more.
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