Looking Into The Uncertain Future
One of the many interesting conversations I had with Tom was the about preparing for certain situations by visualizing different scenarios that could happen. We all know that by preparing for future events, responses or situations, we set ourselves to be more open-minded and resilient to handle things if they didn't turn out the way we expect them to be.
Of course, you can't possible predict everything, but by having an arsenal of back-up plans in your pocket it could let you handle things more efficiently. To better illustrate what I'm trying to imply, let me give you two examples:
Case Scenario I
Let's say you planned a trip. You have everything prepared and Google says the weather should be fine and dandy, but when the day comes it's a downpour. From this scenario, two things can play out: 1) This was your only plan and you didn't prepare for the weather to suddenly turn around. You'll be upset because you either need to cancel or reschedule your plans; or 2) You have another plan up your sleeve and you tell yourself you can do something else instead. You're upset that your plans didn't push through but you get over it and instead decide to be productive with your time and emotions by channeling it into another task or activity that you have in line.
The second scenario illustrates effective planning. By channeling your mind and emotions to do another task instead of being upset and wasting your energy on something you couldn't possibly control, you become more effective in pouring your energy into more productive tasks.
Case Scenario II
Let's say you just had an argument with a friend. You have been going out of your mind thinking of a way to calmly explain your side of things. From this scenario, two things can play out: 1) You try to explain your side hoping your friend would understand and respect your opinions, but suddenly things didn't play out the way you expect them and your friend took things the wrong way. More fuelled words are exchanged and things get out of hand that you start to become even more upset than before; or 2) You know how your friend can be. So you formulate your explanation and visualize possible responses that your friend might say and mentally prepare for them. When it's time to talk, you're aware of how your friend could possibly respond to what you're going to say. You have taken into account how he might take things negatively, and this time you're prepared to handle his response and emotions. You are more calm and patient in responding back and explaining further, since you already played different scenarios in your head. You become more understanding of how he feels and in turn you become more effective in explaining your own feelings.
The second scenario illustrates effective communication. By being aware and taking into account the person's viewpoint, you become more resilient in bouncing back from negative emotions because you've already considered how the other person could react and understand what they might feel with what you are going to say. This lets you understand the person better and become more effective in communicating your thoughts and feelings.
You may have already experienced either one (or both) of the scenarios I mentioned above. I used these as examples because I, myself, recently experienced them. Looking back, I can see how ineffectively I have handled both situations by letting my emotions get the better of me. Now that I had the chance to think about what happened and what I could have done instead, I could have prepared myself and channeled my energy into something more productive and positive. It's easier said than done obviously because there are times that I fail and give in to my emotions without seeing the logical side of things, but being aware is a step closer to making those changes.
The Uncertain Future
Resilience can be defined by asking ourselves: How quickly can I bounce back after a negative event?
This definitions somehow makes it synonymous to the term of being flexible. Now, you and I know that being flexible means being adaptable to any situation. But this also means being open, which leads us to two questions: What can resiliency bring to the table? How can it create an avenue for positivity and open-mindedness for the uncertain future?
Further research and reading lead me to conclude that resilience is all about planning and thinking about the future. It's about setting aside the time to reflect on the outcome of one’s actions (and to some degree, other people's actions). That being said, it all comes down to preparation. As Shauna Carey mentions in an article from Fast Company:
The foundational principal of resilience is preparing for an uncertain future.
Difficult situations come and go. It's how we prepare and handle them that defines us as individuals. Below, I'll be illustrating a few insights of how resiliency can play out in different aspects of our life:
Resiliency In Overcoming Adversity
Urban Design is the first of the two examples that we will look into on how resiliency plays an important role in our communities and in our lives. I recently read a few articles where it talked about the constant effect of nature's adversities (such as rainstorms, hurricanes, and earthquakes) to certain communities, making it a problem that was difficult to overlook. It outlined what design can bring to the table so that the community would be able to withstand these specific events. If an urban area is strongly built and resiliently designed, it can stand strong amidst the onslaught of nature. With this approach to Urban Design, it makes it easier and quicker to pick things up from the ground. It also proved to be more cost-efficient for the local authorities when it comes to implementing recovery and relief plans, such as housing and reconstruction. Since it's designed to withstand the impact of the disaster with as little destruction as possible, there's fewer houses and buildings that would need to be rebuilt or fixed. In a nutshell, resiliency is a form of preventive measure.
It's a comfort to know that life will always give you some kind of cue if there's a problem on the horizon, whether it be from the environment or the people around you. No matter how subtle it is, these cues will always be there waiting to be noticed. If hurricanes, tsunamis, storms, and earthquakes can be predicted by studying the Earth's patterns, what more of life's events?
You and I may not know what the future holds and what kind of difficulties will be thrown our way, but by being more attuned to what is happening around you, eventually, you will be able to notice these subtleties and shifts.
We know changes are happening, we see them coming up, but we can’t possibly predict everything. Designing for flexibility, adaptability, and things that can be changed and tweaked holds true everywhere.
Resiliency In Overcoming Setbacks
Product Design is the second example in which we will look into on how resiliency plays an important role in work and in business. I recently finished reading Let My People Go Surfing and one of the things that I found most insightful is when Yvon Chouinard shared a story about a time when their company, Patagonia, experienced production setbacks. One of their products encountered a problem with fabric quality and they had to dig around to find cause of it and do some damage control. It took a lot of time, effort and manpower to retrace the root of the problem, and from this experience, he shared two key lessons:
- Discuss possible or future problems that could be encountered with any of your product, design or work. Particularly in Chouinard's case, it's important to pay close attention to the process of production because that's where it gets costly.
- Assess and get to the core of that (future) problem and take preventive measures right from the start. Question what could go wrong and what can be done to prevent it. If not, question what can be done if it does happen?
That being said, you shouldn't wait to experience the problem first and then retrace your steps and try to figure out where things went wrong. Instead think ahead, take preventive measures or create a Plan B.
Of course, as Shauna Carey mentioned above, we can't predict everything, but what we can do is prevent things from blowing up to the point where it becomes too difficult to fix the problem or get out of it, which is exactly what Chouinard shared from his experience.
Why only take necessary action when the problem is there when we can either prevent it completely from happening or prepare for it instead so that it doesn't leave a trail of disastrous mess behind?
If you become more emotionally and mentally resilient to bounce back from life's difficulties, it will let you be more open to them. Thereby making it easier to handle tough situations. You learn how to make better lemonades out of the lemons. (Or rather, you accept them, you learn from them, and you make something out of them.)
Resiliency In You
As innovators and creative thinkers, you and I need to build our resilience when it comes to the approach of our work and our lives. This means being prepared, being flexible, being resourceful and being efficient.
Tapping into the resourcefulness of individuals can yield innovative thinking when it comes to resiliency planning.
If you take time to think about certain problems that could come up and prepare for possible worst-case scenarios, it will give you an advantage. This instills three important things in us: 1) resourcefulness in the way you could figure out how to tackle the problem when it comes, 2) flexibility in the way that you could adapt to certain situations because you are better prepared for it, 3) productivity in the way that you could channel your energy and emotions into something more worthwhile and uplifting.
By having this mindset, it sets you out to become more positive even in times of turmoil because the situation didn't catch you completely by surprise. Difficult situations will certainly occur but its impact and its grip on you would not be as significant if you prepared yourself for what's to come.
When we look into the uncertain future and we see a silver lining, it creates comfort and builds our resilience; and with resilience comes a resourceful, flexible and productive mindset in the way we handle difficult situations.