How quickly can I bounce back after a negative event?
By preparing for what could happen, we set ourselves to be resilient in handling things if they didn't turn out the way we expect them to be.
Resilience can be defined by asking ourselves: How quickly can I bounce back after a negative event?
This definition makes it synonymous to being flexible and that means being adaptable to any situation. This lead me to ask two questions: “As a skill, how can resiliency create an avenue for positivity and open-mindedness?”
Articles have led me to believe that resilience is all about thinking and planning for the future. It's about setting aside the time to reflect on the outcome of one’s decisions and actions (and to some degree, other people's actions). That being said, it all comes down to preparation.
The foundational principal of resiliency is preparing for an uncertain future.
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.
Difficult situations come and go. It's how we prepare and handle them that defines us as individuals.
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 to figure out where things went wrong. Instead think ahead, take preventive measures or create a Plan B. I mean, why only take necessary action when the problem is there when you can either prevent it completely from happening or prepare for it instead so that it doesn't leave a trail of disastrous mess behind?
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. This is what Chouinard did based from his experience.
Tapping into the resourcefulness of individuals can yield innovative thinking when it comes to resiliency planning.
CULTIVATING THE SKILL OF Resiliency
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.
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.