On resilience

I came across the website of Human Systems Dynamics Institute, of Glenda Eoyang. I haven’t met her, have not heard her, but here is a part of her latest Info-letter on Resilience, that I find useful. She is also the author of the Questions in Chaos: What, So What, Then What; a described in her Info-letter of Feb.’11.

We can think of resilience for an individual or a group as stable equilibrium—the system is balanced and is able to return to its original state after it is disturbed. The lack of resilience is unstable equilibrium—the system doesn’t return after being disrupted. We can use this distinction to build our capacity for resilience in three ways.

1. Take the opportunity in quiet times to gauge the stability of your own equilibrium with the following questions:
* How quickly do I recover from little disturbances?
* How comfortable am I in my current state and how afraid of disruption?
* What was the last time I was really surprised (positively or negatively), and how did I respond?
2. Assess the factors that influence the stability of your equilibrium with the following questions:
* How many and what kinds of connections hold me in place?
* Who are the people that I interact with each day and how do they make me more comfortable or less comfortable?
* What resources (emotional, financial, relationships, etc.) do I have and how long and how well could they sustain me?
3. Test your own equilibrium to build your resilient capacity by:
* Challenging your own assumptions and values
* Playing “what-if” games with others and by yourself
* Noticing how you respond to the small, everyday disruptions of life and finding ways to react with more grace and good humor

None of us knows how we would respond in such extreme stress as the Japanese, Egyptians, civil servants, or Burkinabe. We also do not know what challenges await us in a future that will test our stability, but we do know that our equilibria will be tested in the months and years to come. Will we find a stable equilibrium? Will we respond with resilience?

2 Responses to “On resilience”

  1. Wasn’t she at ALIA the year you were there? I think she’s coming again this year.

  2. Ria says:

    That might well be Chris, but at that time I hadn’t heard from her. I will check if she will be there this year. Thanks for reminding!

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