Resilience - English Edition
Resilience - English Edition
The phenomenon of resilience
Why do some people and companies manage to emerge even stronger than before from crises and periods of high stress, while others literally fall apart when faced with the same challenges?
In this chapter you will learn
what resilience means,
what factors influence our powers of resistance,
why a crisis does not always have to be a bad thing,
why resilience is something that we can acquire.
What it means to be resilient
Resilient people are able to deal with pressure or stress in such a way that they can return to their normal state once the period of tension is over:
Sick people become healthy again.
Sad people become happy again.
Stressed people find peace and tranquillity.
Overworked people are able to relax.
Life crises are overcome and economic problems are conquered.
Similar to our immune system, which protects our body from illness, resilience refers to the immune system of our psyche or soul: it helps us to deal with stress, pressure and crises.
A person's or an organization's resilience is, however, not regarded as a permanent state that has always existed and is retained forever, but rather as a lifelong learning process. Our resilience and thus our powers of resistance can vary from situation to situation and be stronger or weaker depending on the stage of life we happen to be in.
Walter Strong is the director of a mid-sized company. He can well remember the year 2008. The economic crisis hit his company quite suddenly. Within just a few weeks he had to make several people redundant and negotiate severance packages. It was mainly the older employees who were affected. Walter could hardly bear having to discharge so many competent, loyal colleagues into an uncertain future.
At the same time, Walter's wife was diagnosed with a serious illness. She had to spend three months in hospital, followed by a long stay at a rehabilitation facility. Practically overnight, Walter was left alone to look after their two small children. He had to be there full time not only for his company but also for his wife and children - a balancing act that took him to the brink. Yet he succeeded. Now his wife has regained her health and the company has recovered.
When Walter reflects on this time of crisis, he sometimes does not know how he coped with it and survived. He only knows that the events have brought his family closer together. Without his company's understanding and the active support of his parents, he would not have been able to master the situation. And he knows that, despite all the fears and worries, he never lost his optimistic attitude, his sense of humour or his confidence.
Through long-term studies, researchers have discovered that around a third of us possess the resilience needed to face crises and difficult situations and emerge from them even stronger than before. Many people display this talent in their very early years; others develop it later, over the course of time.
A serious illness, a separation or an unexpected job change, for example, might act as a trigger, causing us to question our patterns of behaviour and develop a new, positive attitude to life.
A former senior manager: "Now, after my burnout, I set totally different priorities. I no longer try to satisfy everyone. I've learned to pay attention to my own needs."
Getting back on one's feet
The term "resilience" (meaning "elasticity" or "vigour"; from the Latin resilire , meaning "rebound") originates from physics and describes the ability of a material to change shape, then afterwards regain its or