ChaptertOO Talent and Business Consulting
The Fundamental Flaw of Resilience

A Gemisode™ Series – Part I

You’re overwhelmed, perhaps exhausted, and juggling more thoughts and responsibilities than you can fathom, yet the ever-pressing demand surrounding you is, ‘be resilient, be, be resilient’

The American Psychological Association offers that “resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”   To Chapter tOO, however, resilience is the oft praised, yet rarely examined through the lens of intersectionality, ‘glorified bounce back’.

Resilience is so celebrated around the world that we examine it, evaluate others on whether they have it, and even teach it. However, it is important to note that while resilience and associated skills can be developed, these skills do not happen without appropriate social support(s), the acknowledgement that our intersectional identities shape how we experience and are able navigate the world, and the recognition that resilience has limits

In a 2017 Harvard Business Review article, the authors offered the following; “too much resilience can get in the way of leadership effectiveness and, by extension, team and organizational effectiveness”,  “extreme resilience could drive people to become overly persistent with unattainable goals” and,  too much resilience could make people overly tolerant of adversity. At work, this can translate into putting up with boring or demoralizing jobs — and particularly bad bosses — for longer than needed.”  

How might developing a tolerance for adversity impact our overall well-being? History has given us a wide selection of examples but we need look no further than the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to understand that some have become “overly tolerant”  while others have become “overly persistent with unattainable goals” due to the prolonged associated  stress exposure.  

By definition, stress is any demand placed on our bodies (e.g. exercising) and minds (e.g. learning a new skill); however, as humans, we are not designed or built to deal with prolonged pressure and intense stress over extended periods of time. Consider the rubber band, it is built to “return to its original position”, yet continued overuse and misuse (i.e. placing it around items bigger than its capacity), causes it to lose elasticity, tear, or break down over time. Unlike the rubber band,  there is no box to reach into for our replacement.

While the impact of the ‘unchecked resilience narrative’ and prolonged stress is clear, as a society, have we taken time to explore the “who” behind the impact? More specifically, who amongst us do we expect more resilience from?  Is it our expectation that those living in poverty, harmful conditions, or those subjected to systemic inequities, discrimination, stereotyping, micro and macro-aggressions, and other ‘isms’  simply ‘bounce back’?.


Resilience shouldn’t be about how much one can endure 


Through the lens of AJEDI-B™, in part II, we further explore and then reframe resilience. If you need assistance reframing resilience, get in touch with us here to learn about our advisory, coaching, and training services.