This is the third in the series of blogs about building personal resilience of staff to ensure that your organisational change sticks and benefits are realised.


Coping successfully with adversity has the great benefit of enhancing resilience which, in turn, enables better coping with future adversity. Thus the experience and application of resilience leads to further positive upward spirals of healing, recovery, growth and thriving, as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2: Experiencing adversity with resilience



No-one wants to experience tough times and adversity, but for personal growth and development to occur, it is often necessary for one’s status quo to be disrupted – adversity achieves this and initiates change. Horace is reputed to have said “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.” After a life-disrupting change, one cannot go back to how things were – one will become stronger or weaker; better or bitter.


This personal impact of the adversity on you is determined by you. You use resilience to deal with the adversity and its personal impact, which encompasses more than just recovery elements and processes.


With this understanding of the role of personal resilience, we define it as the life force to overcome adversity, heal and strive towards self actualisation and flourishing. The implication for organizations is that there is as much personal benefit for staff in enhancing their resilience, as there is for organizations in the further development of resilience at work. Good news for all!


But what differentiates the people who seem to thrive under pressure and difficult times, from those who in the same circumstances seem to whither and weaken? And what causes some resilient people to remain strong for lengthy periods, but then find themselves “battle weary” or “burnt out” so that their coping, dedication and productivity are limited?


This negative coping, with the consequent potential for negative downward spiralling, is shown in Figure 3.


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Figure 3: Experiencing adversity with limited resilience


In the next blog in this series, we will look at a study on resilience carried out in South Africa, which produced some interesting findings.