Surprises Are the New Normal; Resilience Is the New Skill

By: Jim Bruce
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Today’s Tuesday Reading is “Surprises Are the New Normal;  Resilience Is the New Skill,” an essay by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor at the Harvard Business School where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change.  The essay appeared in July 2013 in the HBR blog.

Kantor introduces the essay with the sentence:  “The difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing.”  Later she writes “no one can completely avoid troubles and potential pitfalls are everywhere, so the real skill is the resilience to climb out of the hole and bounce back.

Resilience is the ability to recover and bounce back.  In Kantor’s view, resilience is built on:

  • accountability – taking responsibility and showing remorse
  • collaboration – supporting others in the pursuit of a common goal
  • initiative – focusing on positive steps and improvements.

Resilience is crowded out by complacency, arrogance, and greed.  On the other hand, resilience is fueled by humility and a noble purpose.  It draws from strength of character, it involves self-control, and a willingness to acknowledge your own role in defeat.  It thrives on a sense of community and a core set of values that motivate efforts to overcome the setback. 

So, as the essay’s title states, surprise is the new normal, resilience is the new skill.

Take some time this week to review how you respond to setback and work on the factors that underpin resilience.

Hope that you have a great week.  .  .  .     jim

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