Societal Resilience, Pseudo-Resilience, and the trap of Delegating Resilience!

Resilience

In our work with humans and groups of humans, we could distinguish three levels where the concept of Resilience makes sense (or at least it is used):

  1. At the Individual level,
  2. At the Organizational level (a group of humans that share a mission together, be that of economical or societal nature),
  3. At the Societal level.

At the individual level, we can say that an individual is Resilient if they manage to overcome various traumas, or great disturbances coming from the outside, coming out of them in an evolved manner. The opposite of being Resilient is being stressed out, overwhelmed, always angry, depressed, giving in to addictions, etc. Between the two states, of being Resilient and of being overwhelmed, humans can also be “on the edge”, meaning that from the outside it looks like things are ok, but then even the slightest external disturbance takes them out of their composure (someone cuts them on the highway, someone bumps into them in the bus, etc) and they burst out in Anger. Or, a better level to be in, although still not Resilient, is when things look very stable both from the outside as well as from the inside, but one trauma or a powerful external event (like a pandemic) takes them out of that state and they suddenly feel lost without anything to hang on to.

I’ll not elaborate on how to increase the individual Resilience because the internet is full of advice, and from our experience the process is more of an individual journey, but I’ll highlight the two traps in which professionals fall in this journey:

a) All the focus is devoted to external activities like meditation, physical activity, and physical wellbeing. This is pleasant for sure, but it is superficial in the long run. For lots of Humans meditation in itself is a challenge, so aiming for such a process in the beginning of the transition will most likely backfire, leaving the human with yet another disappointment. The general solution is to take a wholistic approach and bring the professional to a plateau regarding their inner Anxiety, and only afterwards to start adding to the daily routine.

b) A 2nd trap is when some Organizations that were impacted by the pandemic, recognized that they were not Resilient and have created programs to “delegate” Resilience to their professionals. If the organization hasn’t done any professional work on their Organizational Culture (their work environment that didn’t foster in the first place Resilience) the “delegation” of Resilience to its professionals will only feel like yet another torture and yet another unreasonable request.

In general, the most profound work on becoming more Resilient at the individual level is done by identifying and releasing something small, like a “butterfly”, that the individual has integrated in their reality early on, and in time (after 10, 30, 60 years) that butterfly has added up to a lot of psychological luggage. If you are an individual who wants to increase your Resilience, may we suggest you to check out this Active Support service?

Point b) brings us to the Organizational Resilience, which in the field of Organizational Culture means that the company is one step too late. No organization should aim to be Resilient per-se. It should aim to be flexible, to be aligned to its mission and goals, to be efficient, etc, and if the alignment is done correctly, Resilience will be achieved as well indirectly as a positive secondary outcome, among many other traits belonging to a coherent organizational culture. By using correctly the paradigm of Organizational Culture any Organization can attract the behaviors it needs, it can ensure that its professionals are always one step ahead of the external environment, and for sure will turn any pandemic or a considerable disturbance in the external environment into something positive for the organization. One can easily recognize that such an organization is beyond being Resilient, it is a Reality Transformer. Remember that not all of the organizations were impacted negatively by the pandemic, and some even thrived, but for that they have invested in a coherent way of working long before the pandemic.

If you are interested to align your Organizational Culture to the mission and purpose of your organization, we may suggest you to check out this service.

Finally, we reach the third level where Resilience makes the most sense, and that is the Societal Resilience – the ability of a society to survive any external or internal considerable disturbance, like wars, pandemics or disruptive technological advancements. There are countries that registered their last armed conflict in the 1848. How inspiring is that? What a Resilient society that is! There are countries that were almost leveled to the ground after a world war and even with a huge influx of immigrants they managed to maintain their cultural substance and their ways of existence and thriving. Inspiring as well! On the other hand, there are countries in which a simple change of rulers destabilizes them (if the ruler was a dictator) and creates chaos for a big number of humans.

It is worthy to clarify here that it is not the concept of “Democracy” that is destroying countries that have transitioned from an Authoritarian regime; it is the amount of time the society stayed under such an authoritarian regime that has its devastating effects on the country, throughout the transition, for the obvious reason that the next ruler will most likely share many similar behaviors and values as the oust dictator. Authoritarian regimes look Resilient only from the inside, and unfortunately, or fortunately, no country on Earth has the luxury of imagining an existence in separation from the other countries, so in this comparison a Democracy in which leaders are replaced much easier (in some countries even every year while still maintaining an effective role) have a net advantage. The future is not doomed for the current authoritarian regimes as the key to building a Resilient society is Education. So, depending on the level of Wisdom of the Education of the majority of the individuals from that society, the transition will be longer or shorter, with a higher or lower price for the country overall. This Education has to be done on what exists outside, what is possible, what is not possible anymore, what is populistic, what is a promise to turn back time to realities that are not available any more, and so on. The more particular the message, the lower the ignorance will be afterwards, and the better the results in terms of achieving Resilience at the Societal level.

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