The report highlights personal characteristics the corporate world considers to be resiliency markers, such as confidence, flexibility and proficiency. I don’t disagree that these personal and professional characteristics are part of a number of personal traits that make up the “resiliency constellation”; however what I didn’t read are what I believe to be the DNA building blocks of resiliency.
My introduction to resiliency was through Dr. Herbert Benson, and his Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University, whose program incorporated the 3Cs of resiliency. This experience lead me to Dr. Salvatore Maddi’s research at Illinois Bell Telephone in the mid 1970’s as the company were going through enormous stress and strain as a result of a forced corporate reorganization.
Recently I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Dr. Maddi at a conference we were both presenting at. He, along with colleague Dr. Deborah Khoshaba, has developed a body of empirical research, which has significantly contributed to the building and strengthening of resiliency in individuals and organizations. They identified what they refer to as the “roots of resilience”, the 3Cs. I refer to the 3Cs as the DNA building blocks of resiliency because they define and influence of how we interpret and interact with our world.
Commitment: A belief that engagement in life and work is paramount to fulfillment. You meet stressful situations not by pulling back or avoidance, but with a confidence that you can add value by remaining involved.
Control: A belief that if you persist and persevere, you may be able to influence the direction and outcome of things going on in your life and career. You are not likely to sink into passivity and powerlessness.
Challenge: A belief that what makes life interesting and worthwhile is to constantly grow in knowledge and wisdom through life’s positive and negative experiences. You know that change is an opportunity for growth and innovation.
What emerges and flows from these core beliefs are a constellation of hardiness traits that synergistically constitute Resiliency. I believe this distinction is critical because a belief is more powerful than a characteristic. One’s degree of, or tolerance for flexibility is ultimately determined by how deeply one believes that being flexible is worthwhile.
There is an important point to be made about the 3Cs and the resiliency traits. As much as they are assets and strengths, they can also be vulnerabilities. Is there a point when one can be too flexible, confident and proficient? Yes, and an imbalance in the 3C’s can also be cause for concern. If someone is over developed in control (micro-managing), they will be more concerned about results, and miss the relational opportunities and learning from the experience, which just might be the wisdom that prevents one from making the same mistake twice.
There is no doubt that retaining and hiring for resiliency are critical in these turbulent times. In fact it is an imperative. However, knowing what it is you are looking for (trait or belief) and being able to sense the depth of these characteristics is the Art and Science of Resiliency. Further, let’s not forget that there is another option to provding and facilitating hiring resiliency-building skills that will strengthen the 3Cs in your workforce. Resiliency is within each of us; why not encourage its’ growth?