Thursday, October 05, 2006

developing resiliency

Apparently it was Benjamin Franklin who first said that the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance. We could rephrase it as the only thing that costs more than thinking is not thinking. It provides the negative frame for all kinds of education: in the long run, not knowing costs the most. Whatever you spend on training or education is a form of insurance.

Insurance is a form of resiliency: the ability to bounce back after failure or adversity. Resiliency is a big seller in fields like child welfare, where everyone admits that adversity is an inevitable consequence of being alive. It's a more difficult sell in fields like self development, where everyone hopes that adversity can be made obsolete by something that sounds suspiciously like magic.

No happy person wants to believe s/he will need to be resilient: when we are happy we want to believe that happiness can persist. No unhappy person finds it easy to imagine resilience: when we are down, we lose our belief in bounce. It is hard to catch people in the right state for developing more resilience, a state of equilibrium in which they can imagine landing on either side of the fence.

And yet resiliency is the key to our success as a species. Human beings have a wonderful capacity for imagining difference, and wonderful resources for remembering good times. We are good at noticing other people and imagining that their experience could be our experience. We latch onto possibilities. Although we are not the fastest or the strongest animals, we are the ones who bounce.

What gives you bounce when you need it most? How could you develop resiliency so that it kicks in faster or bounces you higher? How could you support resiliency in someone who needs it today?

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