From Babies to Branding, What is ‘Resiliency’?

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Resilience is generally thought of as a “positive adaptation” after a stressful or adverse situation. In other words, resilience is one’s ability to bounce back from a negative experience. The Children Institute explains that, “resilience research is focused on studying those who engage in life with hope and humor despite devastating losses.”

Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on.

resiliency extraordinaryIt is important to note that resilience is ‘not only about overcoming a deeply stressful situation’, but also coming out of the said situation with “competent functioning”.

Resiliency allows a person to rebound from adversity as a strengthened and more resourceful person. Stress comes from many different sources in our lives. Stress can come from normal changes in our lives (birth of a child), unexpected events (winning the lottery or death of a loved one), developments in the world around us (poverty or crime), and daily hassles (traffic or waiting in line). No matter the stressor at hand resiliency allows an individual to adapt and prosper.

Since the 1960-70’s resilience has become a more popular topic of discussion as researchers have become more aware of the implications of positive psychology. Resiliency is often defined in terms of negative, which is more of a traditional psychology method. However, resiliency also focuses on the potential for growth, which follows along with positive psychology methods.

‘Psychological resilience’ is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. Stress and adversity can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial stressors, among others. Individuals demonstrate resilience when they can face difficult experiences and rise above them with ease.

Life__s_a_journey_by_vonStragoResilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average individual and it can be learned and developed by virtually anyone.

Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had. There is a common misconception that people who are resilient experience no negative emotions or thoughts and display optimism in all situations. Contrary to this misconception, the reality remains that resiliency is demonstrated within individuals who can effectively and relatively easily navigate their way around crises and utilize effective methods of coping. In other words, people who demonstrate resilience are people with positive emotionally; they are keen to effectively balance negative emotions with positive ones.

Resilience is composed of particular factors attributed to an individual. There are numerous factors, which cumulatively contribute to a person’s resilience. The primary factor in resilience is having positive relationships inside or outside one’s family. It is the single most critical means of handling both ordinary and extraordinary levels of stress. These positive relationships include traits such as mutual, reciprocal support and caring. Such relationships aid in bolstering a person’s resilience.

Studies show that there are several other factors which develop and sustain a person`s resilience:

  • The ability to make realistic plans and being capable of taking the steps necessary to follow through with them
  • A positive self-concept and confidence in one’s strengths and abilities
  • Communication and problem-solving skills
  • The ability to manage strong impulses and feelings

These factors are not necessarily inherent; they can be developed in any individual and they promote resiliency.

stress01Recently there has also been evidence that resilience can indicate a capacity to resist a sharp decline in other harm even though a person temporarily appears to get worse.

There is also controversy about the indicators of good psychological and social development when resilience is studied across different cultures and contexts. The American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Resilience and Strength in Black Children and Adolescents, for example, notes that there may be special skills that these young people and families have that help them cope, including the ability to resist racial prejudice.

Researchers of indigenous health have shown the impact of culture, history, community values, and geographical settings on resilience in indigenous communities. People who cope may also show “hidden resilience” when they don’t conform with society’s expectations for how someone is supposed to behave (in some contexts, aggression may be required to cope, or less emotional engagement may be protective in situations of abuse).

In all these instances, resilience is best understood as a process.

It is often mistakenly assumed to be a trait of the individual, an idea more typically referred to as “resiliency.” Most research now shows that resilience is the result of individuals being able to interact with their environments and the processes that either promote well-being or protect them against the overwhelming influence of risk factors.

womaneer-multitaskingThese processes can be individual coping strategies, or may be helped along by good families, schools, communities, and social policies that make resilience more likely to occur. In this sense “resilience” occurs when there are cumulative “protective factors“.

These factors are likely to play a more and more important role the greater the individual’s exposure to cumulative “risk factors“.

The phrase “risk and resilience“‘ in this area of study is quite common.

Commonly used terms, which are closely related within psychology, are “psychological resilience,” “emotional resilience,” “hardiness”, “resourcefulness,” and “mental toughness.” The earlier focus on individual capacity which Anthony described as the “invulnerable child” has evolved into a more multilevel ecological perspective that builds on theory developed by Uri Bronfenbrenner (1979), and more recently discussed in the work of Michael Ungar (2004, 2008), Ann Masten (2001), and Michael Rutter (1987, 2008). The focus in research has shifted from “protective factors” toward protective “processes”; trying to understand how different factors are involved in both promoting well-being and protecting against risk.

A related concept to psychological resilience is ‘family resilience’.

History

Garmezy (1973) published the first research findings on resilience. He used epidemiology, which is the study of who gets ill, who does not, and why, to uncover the risks and the protective factors that now help define resilience. Garmezy and Streitman (1974) then created tools to look at systems that support development of resilience.

Emmy Werner (1982) was one of the early scientists to use the term resilience in the 1970s. She studied a cohort of children from Kauai, Hawaii. Kauai was quite poor and many of the children in the study grew up with alcoholic or mentally ill parents. Many of the parents were also out of work.

“My child is not giving me a difficult time;
my child is having a difficult time.”

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Werner noted that of the children who grew up in these very bad situations, two-thirds exhibited destructive behaviors in their later teen years, such as chronic unemployment, substance abuse, and out-of-wedlock births (in case of teenage girls). However one-third of these youngsters did not exhibit destructive behaviors. Werner called the latter group ‘resilient‘.

Resilient children and their families had traits that made them different from non-resilient children and families.

Resilience emerged as a major theoretical and research topic from the studies of children of schizophrenic mothers in the 1980s. In Masten’s (1989) study, the results showed that children with a schizophrenic parent may not obtain comforting care-giving compared to children with healthy parents, and such situations had an impact on children’s development. However, some children of ill parents thrived well and were competent in academic achievement, and therefore led researchers to make efforts to understand such responses to adversity.

adorable_baby_in_briefcaseToday’s families, especially our children, are under tremendous stress with the potential to damage both physical health and psychological well-being.

The stress comes from families who are always on the go, who are over scheduled with extracurricular activities, and ever-present peer pressure. In the teen years, the anxiety and pressure are related to getting into “the” college.

In today’s environment, children and teens need to develop strengths, acquire skills to cope, recover from hardships, and be prepared for future challenges.

Children today need to be resilient in order to succeed in life.

In the onset of the research on resilience, researchers have been devoted to discovering the protective factors that explain people’s adaptation to adverse conditions, such as maltreatment, catastrophic life events, or urban poverty. The focus of empirical work then has been shifted to understand the underlying protective processes. Researchers endeavor to uncover how some factors (e.g. family) may contribute to positive outcomes.

How do people deal with difficult events that change their lives?

The death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness, terrorist attacks and other traumatic events: these are all examples of very challenging life experiences. Many people react to such circumstances with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Yet, people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions.

What enables them to do so?

It involves resilience, an ongoing process that requires time and effort and engages people in taking a number of steps.

10 ways to build resilience

  1. Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.
  2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
  3. Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
  4. Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the Take care of yourself.direction I want to go?”
  5. Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
  6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
  7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
  8. Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
  9. Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
  10. Take Care of Yourself.  Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.

The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.
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Business resilience is the ability an organization has to quickly adapt to disruptions while maintaining continuous business operations and safeguarding people, assets and overall brand equity.

Business resilience goes a step beyond disaster recovery by offering post-disaster strategies to avoid costly downtime, shore up vulnerabilities and maintain business operations in the face of additional, unexpected breaches.

Business resilience begins with an understanding that workflows must be preserved in order for organizations to survive unexpected events. An often-overlooked challenge of business resilience planning is the human element, whereby individuals in a chaotic situation must be prepared and educated on how to respond accordingly.

Business resilience planning is sometimes referred to as business continuity planning.

When a business suffers a blow to its reputation, it is considered a crisis, but it is not a business continuity event. When a major storm is forecast and blows through, but the proper preparations and effective incident management leave a business untouched by storm damage, business continuity may not need to be initiated. On the other hand, when a fire breaks out and burns down a building that is a crisis situation that causes a disruption to business operations and triggers a business continuity response. Crisis events where lives are lost also trigger a business continuity response. Business continuity is necessary when there is loss of a place of business or loss of a resource that conducts a business process. When a building is impacted, people are transferred. When people are impacted, processes are transferred to other locations.

resilience-1Unlike crisis management which most often requires a business continuity response, business continuity can be necessary without a crisis situation. Think about a building with a leaky roof. The leaky roof is not a crisis situation, but the leak may impact equipment storage or an employee location. In either case, alternate work location plans should be implemented so that critical business processes can continue.

Business resiliency is the maturation and integration of the individual disciplines of crisis management, incident response, business continuity, disaster recovery and pandemic planning into one integrated set of processes and capabilities that work collectively, instead of in silos. This approach allows businesses to have minimal disruption in the event of an incident that affects the entire organization. Business resiliency is the ability of a business to spring back from a disruption to its operations. Business continuity and disaster recovery have historically focused on a business’ ability to recover from a disruption.

Recovery implies that there was downtime during which business operations were unavailable. Resiliency, on the other hand, implies that an event may have affected a business’ operations but the business was never completely unavailable. All organizations experience failures or other impacts to business operations at some point, so it is critical for all services to be both designed for uptime and prepared for failures. Resiliency is tightly aligned to business strategy. It takes a holistic approach to risk management silos, and it strives to minimize downtime by embedding resiliency and workarounds into everything the organization does–from business processes to corporate and data center site selection to enterprise architecture and application development.

A resilient organization must be like a spring: It absorbs the impact and bounces back.

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