Resilience is another one of the concepts that has become very popular lately, especially in the management literature.  Resilience is the ability to recover one’s equilibrium, one’s balance, one’s ability to move forward and even thrive after a traumatic experience, after natural disaster, after war, after the death of a loved one, after a change in status or position, even after a lay-off or termination at work. 


It is curious to me that resilience has become so popular in the management literature of late, just as downsizing and layoffs have become increasingly part-and-parcel of Western capitalist enterprises and individual workers and professionals are forced more-and-more to rely on themselves alone, as the system has cut out job security with at-will employment the hard-hearted standard, cut out life security with the removal of many pension plans, even after years of worker investment, and now the removal of health benefits.  Workers in America work increasingly long hours, while their cost of living and quality of life has declined over time.  Inequality has dramatically increased also with the 99% more frequently being pushed to the margins.


In his TedXCortland talk, Cornell psychologist Greg Eels talks about how to develop resilience.  He points out that connection is important.  Doing things for another person.  Surround ourselves with resilience role models.  Attitude is another important component he argues.  Tell ourselves, this is temporary, things will get better.  Personalization and values are also important, he adds.


Joan Borsynko talks about how fear opposes resilience and can be passed down genetically by stressed-out parents.  She proposes that resilience is engendered by realistically responding to a challenge and taking action right away; faith in a larger context or power; creativity; love; exercise; self awareness and self regulation.  Difficulties are a way to develop compassion.


I have lived in conflict and post-conflict countries since 2008, first Iraq for three years, then Liberia for two years, and now Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, though 20 years after the war’s end still largely sees the war as defining their identity.  In these countries, I have witnessed true resilience and marveled at the ability of people to transcend the most horrible circumstances and regain their hope for the future.   I rarely if ever hear management experts in the West referring to such individuals or talking about true resilience.  Management experts appear to be in a sense bashing Westerners for difficulty managing the common layoffs and removal of social safety nets that liberal capitalism has so furiously proffered in recent decades.  We have created a brutal, heartless system driven by profits which has ground up individuals and then blamed them for not having the resilience to endure the upheaval and total reliance on themselves for any sense of security and safety in the world.  At the same time, the same brutal system has increasingly victimized peoples in other regions of the world, either exploiting them for cheap labor, or creating confusion and chaos in their lives through war, and then not even acknowledging the resilience by which they survive and endure.  Perhaps the recent refugee crisis and mass infusion of refugees into Europe will finally bring home to roost the consequences of one-sided policies of profiteers.  Unfortunately, again the average person will be the one to bear the brunt of the destruction that will no doubt result.

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