Resilience is Dead

Written By Dennis

December 15, 2020

OK I’ve had enough. I’m calling it. Resilience is finished!

Who is sick of hearing the word resilience? Who is tired of hearing that it’s resilience that underpins everything from electoral systems, to financial markets to personal strategies and relationships?
Well, I certainly am.

I’ve had enough of hearing the word resilience being used inappropriately and in the wrong context.

I know the dictionary tells us that resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness” or “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape, elasticity.”

But, those are the definitions that’s causing these problems.

I can hear many of you people saying – “well Hoiberg, you’re part of the problem – you’ve been talking about it since 1995!”

That may be true. But, in my defence, my take on the concept of emotional resilience is not “toughness” or the ability to “bounce back“ but rather the ability to bounce forward.

When you go through change or confront the challenge, who wants to go back to the old ways?

To me, that never made sense. Surely life is about learning from your experiences, valuing the lessons and changing in order to move on?

I guess I have almost given up trying to get this message through because the word resilience is, in my opinion, being used in the wrong way. And I feel I am battling strong headwinds!

I am convinced so many people still associate the word resilience with “toughness”, “hanging in there”, “being stoic” and just darn well “persisting”.

This basically implores them to keep going – “light at the end of the tunnel” etc.

So, I think we need to come up with another word because I’m convinced that the capacity to bounce forward through change and challenge is such a fundamental life skill that everyone should continue to develop.

What word better reflects the intention of bouncing forward and learning those lessons?

As in any other walk of life when things get a bit tough – read the sports columns!

I remember a great article featuring Steve Smith, a young person who lost the captaincy of the Australian cricket team through controversial circumstances.

Image: Steve Smith facing the media.

He was pretty much frogmarched out of South Africa and endured a very public press conference on his return to Australia.

When he was asked about those events, he made the point that it is probably one of the darkest times of his life but also one of greatest in terms of learning and growth.

He mentioned having to reflect on himself and his behaviours (in our game we call that acceptance), identify what type of person and player he wanted to be (in our game we call that authenticity) and to adapt the way he lead his life.

If there’s any better case study about resilience, I haven’t read it – and I read many of them!

The key word he mentioned was adaptability and to me that is the word most people would be more likely to accept and understand.

So, what is your emotional adaptability like?

What are the techniques you use to reflect and adapt in response to challenges and change in your life? How do you adapt, bounce forward and thrive with new opportunities?

Resilience is dead (as a word) – long live emotional adaptability!

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