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'High Flying' Resilience (And How It May Be A Façade)

'High Flying' Resilience (And How It May Be A Façade)

Successful people, especially those who exude confidence and project an appearance of strength, may appear to be the archetype of a 'resilient' person. However, a great deal of resilience is developed by making mistakes and learning from them, from pushing yourself to accomplish new things and from overcoming adversity.

'High flyers' in the corporate world are often achievement and success-oriented, highly ambitious perfectionists who judge themselves by their career success. Their jobs may put them under enormous pressure that they then add to by putting unrealistic demands on themselves.

The potential for work to consume people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has also increased over the last 20 years. Advances in technology and communication mean that the boundaries between work life and home life have become increasingly blurred. This can cause the intensity and duration of stress to unhealthy levels. Whilst a certain amount of stress is normal, especially if you push yourself to go outside of your comfort zone and into your 'stretch zone' (and in fact is often necessary in order to develop and improve), going into the 'panic zone' too often, and for too long, can be detrimental. Below is a representation of Karl Rohne's Comfort - Stretch - Panic model:

 

The Comfort Zone

The 'Comfort Zone' is ... comfortable ... it includes activities and experiences that do not push you. You do not really exceed your confidence or competence. However, it the comfort zone you do not really learn much or develop.

 

The Stretch Zone 

The 'Stretch Zone' is where you experience new things that are stimulating, developing your skills and confidence. It is a place where we push ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically, but within our comfortable limits. It is the zone in which the greatest amount of positive learning and development occurs. As you stretch yourself more, your 'comfort zone' gets bigger.

 

The Panic Zone

The 'Panic Zone' is where you experience activities and experiences that you cannot easily deal with. In small amounts, overcoming these experiences can build self-efficacy and confidence. However, it is not a place that you usually want to be for long, if at all. Less of your energy is focused towards learning and developing your skills, and more of your energy is focused on trying to control your anxiety and avoid feelings of being overwhelmed.

It is also important to recognise that being successful or working in a position of power does not always equate to resilience or being resilient. Resilience is the ability to cope with life's challenges and adapt to adversity. Some successful people do not develop resilience because they do not experience the adverse events required to build a foundation of resilience upon. For this reason, some people who are accustomed to things always going right for them can find it very hard to cope when things do not go right.

 

The Case of Superman and Lois Lane

A good illustration of someone with strength and power, but who might lack resilience as a consequence of successfully overcoming adversity is the example Superman and the death of Lois Lane (although as we see, Superman does have the power to change the world - skill that us mere mortals do not). Hence developing sufficient resilience and a range of strategies to cope with the slings and arrows of life is essential.

On the subject of mere mortals, maybe the reason that Superman's lack of resilience is due to what sets him aside from other superheroes? Superman was born a superhero, and his alter ego was Clark Kent, whereas Spiderman was born Peter Parker, and Batman was born Bruce Wayne.

 

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