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Resilience in the face of turbulence & uncertainty

The past few months have been trying — dealing with the angst related to a critical presidential election and a worsening pandemic scenario, with daily infection tallies growing and the palpable negative impact on the economy. As I write this blog on Monday, I don’t know what the outcome of the election will be. As you read this blog on Thursday, you will know more. Maybe there will be a definitive outcome, perhaps it will take longer to tally all the votes to arrive at the results.

What I am writing about is where we might go from where we are, whatever the outcome. We are living in turbulent, complex, and uncertain times, that are outside of normal. In the language of complex systems, our behavior, as individuals and as members of our families, organizations, communities, and as members of the U.S. society, has fluctuated and continues to fluctuate way outside our normal bounds. We are in a state far-from-equilibrium and, it seems certain, we are not going to return to a ‘normal’ equilibrium. Here is the bright side. We will get to influence and shape a new reality. There are possibilities and potential here for growth, development, and transformation

Let’s talk a moment about resilience. Such a beautiful word. It rolls off the tongue like a brief musical motif. Resilience is the capacity of a ‘system’ to sustain itself in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and turbulence, modifying its structure (relations and ways of behaving) to adapt, to survive and, potentially, to thrive. When we speak of ‘systems’ in this context, I refer to the nested systems of our families, our teams at work, our organization/s, our communities, and our society at large. We cannot avoid difficulty and turbulence. What we can do is strive to build our own resilience as individuals and contribute to the resilience of our families, our teams, and our communities.

First, it is critical to grasp that diversity is a key to resilience in any system. As we make sense of what we experience, then respond, learn and repurpose to adjust to the challenges of change, we are more resilient by drawing on the diversity we find among individuals and groups with different perspectives and experiences. They may reflect different belief systems, mind-sets, skill sets, and different ways of making sense of the world. If we welcome, respect, and leverage this diversity, we unleash an enhanced heterogeneous capacity to respond imaginatively and creatively to the complex challenges at hand. In fact, when we do this, we are bringing people together in a different configuration, and re-ordering our reality to adapt and thrive.

What are the opportunities to grow in our resilience and to shape and influence to realize our purpose and objectives? Here are a few ideas. They are not necessarily new, but I hope they might be helpful to you throughout this week and beyond:

What is your story? What brought you to this moment in time? Take some time to reflect by constructing a ‘Life Map,’ a visual timeline of key moments in your life. How do you perceive your life differently after this exercise? What insights does it offer? Does it influence how you want to move your life forward?

All of us can learn to better navigate uncertainty. We can more effectively embrace what we are experiencing and learn to adapt and thrive. We are in this together. Together we have the capacity to shape and influence new constructive paths forward for our families, our businesses, our communities, and our society. As I am writing this today, I am hopeful. I’ve been supporting leaders and organizations in learning how navigate complexity for thirteen years now. If you’d like to have a conversation:
Sandra M. Martínez, Ph.D.,PCC
Fénix Leadership & Development, LLC
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