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Refocused Resilience

Dr. Brendan O'Brien

When Resilience is usually considered in the caring medical professions or corporate life, it’s thought to relate mainly to the ability to handle adversity. To withstand the rigours of our daily pursuits and the pressures and stressors. In this respect, Resilience is seen as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and demonstrate toughness. The ability to tolerate the heat. Yes, this is true, but maybe not complete enough in today’s rapidly changing technological age.

So, adversity and difficulties in our daily lives bring out or call out our Resilience abilities- okay, that makes sense. But there is another way to consider this. Perhaps even, there is an alternative deeper understanding that has become more relevant in today’s world, particularly in 2020’s world. This different context needs to be explored, explained and developed. This is one of many essential threads in our research at the Creative Thinking Institute.

The features of demonstrating Resilience and handling adversity in our daily lives have traditionally been assessed in the metric we have long known as Emotional Quotient EQ. This included the ability to navigate our emotional state, in a multi-layered social environment, with self-awareness and self-regulation. We propose that these attributes from EQ have, in essence, bubbled out into their domain, which forms part of the Adaptability Quotient AQ. This has become important in its own right.

The rapid pace of change in our current 2020’s world has created increased demands on particular aspects of our internal realms. We have to be able to tolerate change much more often. We have to be able to prosper through change. To thrive, we need to see change as an opportunity. Change becomes our call for action, a time to learn new skills, renew our perspective or adopt an alternative point of view. Old skills need to be unlearned, and curiosity for new knowledge needs to take centre stage.

The agile perspective of modern nimble corporations is intrinsic to the Change adoption. Learn, iterate, adapt, innovate, relearn, and change. Short “sprint cycles”, rapid prototyping, repeated testing and obtaining immediate feedback. Then, making new relevant assumptions based on the results, which are then further developed and retested. So, in essence, Change is not only embraced, but change is actively sought after and created. Change becomes the catalyst leading to innovation, progress, and new developments. We are all becoming more familiar with this business cycle and this new life cycle as we live it out currently.

Inherent in this evolution is the ability to grow through change, as an individual, as a team and as a company or corporation. But as we all experience, the actual kernel is that *Change can and often leads to failure.* Thus, the better we handle change, the better we must cope with failure. Indeed, the modern start-up or young corporation mantra is fail fast, fail often. As a group or corporation acknowledges its need to innovate and create new things, they also accept that failure is merely a process point that will occur along the road. Take a moment to reflect on this. Failure is a process point. Best experienced as a required step towards rapid learning and real progress in this ultra-competitive world.

So how does this apply to medical healthcare or corporate managerial professions? Failure has been consciously avoided because of the possibility of adverse outcomes. Understandable. High standards are and should be the norm. However, the undercurrent associated with this has been the pervasive fear that failure may bring- litigation, damaged reputation and loss of referrals or business leads. So, failure becomes an avoidant conditioner. Failure or the risk of creating failure becomes a strong driver in creating Stigma that prevents asking for assistance.

Let’s be clear here; failure must always be actively examined, understood and overcome. That is the central tenement of any risk management process. But outright avoidant behaviour of failure is impossible and essentially denies an aspect of our humanity. We must accept that loss is inherent in pushing boundaries and learn quickly from failure. Importantly failure should not paralyse us. Thus, we need to be able to tolerate failure to continue to be highly functioning. No stigma should be attached to experiencing loss. This is crucial in improving the mental health of individuals, teams and companies worldwide.

This ability to tolerate failure is at the core of Adaptability. This leads us back to the start of this discussion: Refocused Resilience.

Refocused Resilience is a crucial metric of Adaptability and the Adaptability Quotient, a specific skillset required to function strongly with an ability to tolerate and work through failure. Both alone and in teams. Being resilient doesn’t mean “toughen up,” it doesn’t mean “one is weak” or “not up to the task.” No, being Resilient means being able to keep going through change, learn and prosper through failure, remain curious and relearn new strategies. Being Resilient in this era is less about adversity and more about *demonstrating Adaptability *.

These are the key features, so we need to embrace a new or more profound understanding of Refocused Resilience. We aim to foster this in our current research at the Creative Thinking Institute.

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