How To Think About...Resilience

The Resilient Leader recognizes that true strength is more than overcoming the challenge of stressful environments. They have experienced the dark side of resilience where extreme persistence in the face of unrealistic goals delivers false and damaging hope. Overconfidence. Excessive optimism. These are the hallmarks of a rigid, delusional resilience.   

Instead, they are intolerant of practices that are counterproductive. More than anything they recognize that the ability to endure requires the health and harmony of teams. Of social structures which make in-group cohesion the goal rather than between group competition. 

They cultivate what is a highly adaptive trait. The ability to regulate their emotional response and to nurture a sense of belonging. To attribute meaning to challenges, and connect it to their own beliefs and values. Exercising agency, an awareness of control and the freedom to be innovative in the face of risk. All of which begins with an inward journey, the quest for self-awareness and the values which inhibit change.



The Resilient Leader Simulation Experience



In the space of a week the future of our world is suddenly uncertain. An asteroid larger than the Chicxulub impactor, the rock responsible for the extinction event and atomic winter that killed off dinosaurs and nearly 75% of all species, is on a collision course with earth. It is 20 km in diameter. If it hits the crater will be more than 200 km across and a mega tsunami will reach heights of more than 450 feet. A cloud of superheated dust and ash particles will cover the surface of the Earth for a decade, cooling the surface and destroying the food chain.

Multiple contingency plans are initiated in a global effort: A nuclear blast, solar sails, kinetic impact, gravitational tractors. All redolent of science fiction. Yet, it is perhaps the most common tale from the stars which has the greatest level of support. A mission to Mars. 

A group of 12 will begin a trip of over 90 days when Mars is at its closest point to Earth, a time that arrives once every 26 months. Their task: colonize the planet. On Mars the materials exist to make silicon and thus photovoltaic panels. Deuterium can be mined for fusion reactors and plastic domes, protected by an unpressurised UV-resistant shield, can be used to rapidly create cropland on the surface. The greenhouse effect producing a temperate climate we could explore in shirtsleeves. If we make it. 



Leaders assume one of several key roles: biologists, chemists, engineers, doctors, and more. They face a series of daunting challenges. Refilling in orbit, landing the space craft, finding a water source, creating a food supply and even terraforming. 

As the group are stretched to the limits of endurance leaders will:

  • Experience the dark side of confidence and excessive optimism
  • Weigh in-group cohesion with between-group competition  
  • Face the trauma of exclusion
  • Find meaning to connect beliefs and adversity
  • Uncover and challenge the personal beliefs that inhibit resilience
  • Exercise agency and produce innovation 
  • Capture subsequent, real world qualitative and quantitative impacts