December 18, 2012 1 Comment

Andrew Zolli is a long time friend of the Interaction family.  His recent piece on the New York Times, Learning to Bounce Back, reminded me of why Marianne Hughes, founder and former Executive Director of IISC has been raving about his new book on resilience.

Andrew’s article is great, so I won’t repeat his argument here, he makes (and potentially overstates) a contrast between talk of sustainability and the work of resilience.  Reading the piece, I am reminded of Stowe Boyd’s argument that we are now in the post-normal, and the post-normal is defined by VUCA:  Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.  Ours is a context that demands resilience.

In Zolli’s words:

Where sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world.

It’s a broad-spectrum agenda that, at one end, seeks to imbue our communities, institutions and infrastructure with greater flexibility, intelligence and responsiveness to extreme events and, at the other, centers on bolstering people’s psychological and physiological capacity to deal with high-stress circumstances.

So Zolli is not only concerned with the way “buildings weather storms but how people weather them, too.”  And this is what I think is fundamental to the work of movement building:

Here, psychologists, sociologists and neuroscientists are uncovering a wide array of factors that make you more or less resilient than the person next to you: the reach of your social networks, the quality of your close relationships, your access to resources, your genes and health, your beliefs and habits of mind.

This analysis should provide a powerful focus to our approach, we can’t do much about genes, but we can touch everything else on this list.   What I find most exciting, is that “based on these insights, these researchers have developed training regimens, rooted in contemplative practice.”  There it is, the inner side of leadership.  Our day demands resilience, and resilience demands that we become more integral as human beings.

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