For not necessarily good reason, in the recent years a propagation of the word “Resilience” has spread amongst management writers and inspirational key-note speakers.
In my personal experience, it was through the reading Mr. Boris Cyrulnik’s books that the word came to me for the first time, leading me next to greatly admire such a both human being and scientific personality. A “speech doctor” who has relentlessly explored the recovery processes of infants and youngsters who, at some point, did endure very traumatic experiences, potentially destructive, denying any likelihood of productive, human development. In many of the counterintuitive, successful cases studied, the author described the play of two different internal moves within the soul of the kids which, with no apparent explanation, eventually allow to reconnect part of their “still alive” capabilities with some elements of the post-trauma environment, hooking them up as long term supporting influences: the genuine words of an educator, a witness with whom to find – create- new meaning to the experienced trauma,… in the end, events allowing to channel further efforts in non-destructive ways …
In all these cases, these “Enlighted witnesses” do operate in parallel to an internal oblivion in the patient’s conscience, but by no means less active along the resilience process. This omission refers to a fundamental aspect: the psychic breach the trauma has produced, which the subject needs to actively deny and of which to reject any awareness, as a precondition to give course to a nascent behaviors of adaptive recovery. As human as painful it may look, these are two sides of the same coin. Overcoming these setbacks would honour the efforts of educated adults, with a significant number of free possibilities at hand. But we cannot, by any reason, to demand or expect such a performance from a young human being, traumatized by the random blows of life, at the time with no physical of psychic defence possible.
To my view, Dr. Cyrulnik’s great contribution lies in having provided a deep understanding to such both terrible and complex situation, in which do take place the two Labours of Love of the resilient fighter. One of the internal drives explores and realizes the reconnection with the detected, supporting elements of the environment. The other trend, however, keeps awareness far from any reminder of the terrible, unbearable events. Denial, as actively unaware it may eventually be, pairing with conscious effort to hook up with saviour influence.
It is only over the mid or long run that the supporting relationships may, whether partially, allow some broken souls to regain new strengths in order to face the memories of trauma and this way slowly to intertwine new meaning alongside. The former occurring, we could say that an eternal “no way out” situation, an ancient and deeply intimate “me-against-all” feeling ends up for the victimized person.
Unfortunately, we are too used to read management literature using the term ‘resilience’ and thereafter calling for the development of individual “capabilities” or leadership “strengths”, misleading the essential fact of resilience being a better, more sustainable form of social reaction in the face of adversity. Whatever its causes, this omission destroys, in the concept of Resilience, the creative tensions between the two drives described by Dr. Cyrulnik in the learning process associated to the recovery of fundamental social dimension, which was formerly denied to a human being, because of the suffered trauma.
I believe there is a danger in talking about resilience as a management exercise addressing business challenges, if so happens without referring to an “internal trauma”, either for self or for the organization managed. Using this term in order to face business environment entails consider it as traumatic per se, which is a disgraceful choice.
Resilience is a fundamental ability to find supporting, more sustainable ways to associate with our environment, even if hostile in part. It has absolutely nothing to do with trivializing the traumas at the origin of such human, cooperative resource.
Should we continue to talk about resilience, could we do it with a basic, decent respect for those really having suffered the once lonely, hopeless, traumatic events?