The Limits of “Resilience”



The word “resilience” is much in vogue right now, fir understandable reasons.

I think it’s tempting, but it misses the point.

The dictonary defines resilience as:

“The power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity”

I’m not sure we want to be resilient – to go back to what we were. I think Nassim Nicholas Taleb has it right in his book “Anti Fragility“. He argues that the opposite of fragility is not Reslience or Robust – it is “Anti Fragile”

The idea of anti fragility is that we should seek to grow from the energy of a shock, not just recover from it.

It links to concepts of mindsets and attitudes. Carol Dweck talks about “Growth Mindsets” – the willingness and determination to embrace possibility- and “Fixed Mindsets”, the view that things are as they are, and we are as we are, and that’s just the way of it.

There’s also a useful model in Adam Morgan’s book, “A Beautiful Constraint“. He talks about us operating in three different ways – as “Victims” – letting things happen to us; as “Neutralisers” – finding ways round a problem but not changing it; and as “Transformers”, those who reimagine, rethink, and remodel their approach to not only remove the problem, but create new possibility.

I think Resilience is about Neutralisers, whilst Anti Fragility is about Transformation.

The challenges we face offer huge scope for transformation. Why would be want to be resilient?

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