Resilience is good, right? But is too much bad?

I was asked this when running a resilience training workshop for 30 Local Councillors. They were newly-elected and from three different political parties.

We were looking at how personal strengths influence resilience. I was blown away that 40% of them had Bravery in their top five strengths profile. Bravery is defined as speaking up for what is right and acting on one’s convictions, even if it’s unpopular. Usually it’s only about 15%.

Bravery is a wonderful strength. We need bravery to resist social or peer pressure to conform, to speak up and to keep on doing “the right thing”. You need a lot of that to be a whistle-blower and be resilient.

The Local Councillors told me they need bravery for … how did they put it? Oh yes, “robust” and “full and frank exchange of views” with each other.

Strengths can become weaknesses however, if they are used inappropriately. When bravery is used at an inappropriate time or used too much, it becomes overconfidence and foolishness. People stop listening. They ignore you. You end up being disrespected and labelled a troublemaker.

That’s when one of the delegates asked: “Is too much resilience bad? She explained that a senior leader boasted: “I don’t have stress. I give stress. I am stress carrier.”

From the outside, that may sound like powerful resilience.

But is it actually resilience?

I don’t think so. To me, that statement reflects something masquerading as resilience. The giveaway it’s not resilience is that nothing touches him. He doesn’t care about the impact of his actions on others.

His Teflon-like reaction may come from being completely self-centred. Perhaps he has an inflated sense of his own importance. If so, the comment may reflect a narcissistic personality rather than anything to do with resilience.

So it is too much resilience bad?

No, I think we can never have enough of the ability to cope and recover well from adversity.

I believe that true resilience involves being aware of the impact of our coping behaviour on others. If our coping behaviour is significantly detrimental to others, and we are unconcerned, then I don’t think it’s resilience at all.

That applies to politicians as much as it does to the rest of us.

What do you think?


Check out this brand-new workshop to help you Beat the Dark Side!

I have a new, intensive one-day workshop for men and women who excel at work, but are experiencing over-stress from issues such as: ever increasing work demands; navigating difficult professional and career issues; needing life outside of work; struggling to be the loving parent and partner they would like to be (more here).

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A photo by Priscilla Westra. the Dark Side of Greatness

There is a dark side when the success achieved at work comes at a significant cost. You end up sacrificing your soul and not being the loving partner and parent you would like to be. Discover how to use your strengths without self-sabotage, enhance your energy reserves and  minimize the impact of your stress triggers (read more here)

Resilient Leadership WorkshopResilient Leadership Workshop
Leaders learn how to keep stress positive. They assess their Team Members strategy-fitness and learn three resilience coaching techniques. The outcome is the leaders are better able to deliver organisational strategy and coach their team members when their resilience lags (read more here).

Building Resilience workshopBuilding Resilience Workshop

Team members and specialists learn how to bounce back from difficult organisation and life events, such as significant change, setbacks and hardship. The outcome is they are able to resist stressful experiences impacting on their job productivity and stay calm and healthy (read more here).

Mental Strength training

Mental Strength Training

Mental Strength training helps people keep task-focused and persistent. Mental Strength training teaches the process and tools to remain composed under pressure and less vulnerable to emotional slumps at work and at home (read more here).