This is important. You are:
A leader and you are concerned about how people actually respond to chaos and crisis.
A supportive person. You have been all over, in many industries, and have worked in the bottom and the top of the ladder. You have done meaningful work but do not take on formal leadership.
Lovely to meet you. You are in the right place. You will find this interesting.
You may have seen this video which has been floating around. It is my attempt at compressing the first 2 years of research into 15 and a half minutes.
Open Part 1 in Youtube
Summary: Resilience is all about being able to deal with unexpected reality. We are emotional beings and have a lot of inherent biases in the way. These biases stem from our brains turning our fight-or-flight response into overdrive. What this means is that our natural reaction is to turn towards denial and pretend that certain information doesn't exist. There is a type of narrative however that we can tell ourselves which helps us take control and do beneficial actions. The hardest part though is that our ability to be resilient is hugely dependent on the context in which we are in.
"One of the best lectures I've ever seen at Stanford."
"Your resilience piece saved me."
Part 2 is a continuation of the work and details the types of spaces we need to create for ourselves to actually be resilient. These spaces are emotional as much as they are physical.
Open Part 2 in Youtube
Summary: There are 3 spaces which we need to develop for ourselves in order to be able to adapt. 2 of them we usually have. Front Stage is how we present ourselves to the world and how we act. Back Stage is where we go to recover, to form relationships, and basically establish where we are in the metaphorical wolf pack. The last space is often over looked. Margin is the space we go where all norms are suspended and where we can face hard truths. Each of these spaces must be present and clearly defined to you. The video goes into how it works and a story of how one person realized she needed to create it for herself.
Part 3 expands Parts 1 and 2 into the outside world. It is a presentation given at the end of Bangkok Design Week 2020 after a study of resilience and mindfulness.
Open Part 3 in Youtube
Summary: In Part 1 we cover how our resilience is dependent on controlling an overdriven brain and analyzing the space we are in. In Part 2 we realized that this analysis is best if done in the Margin. We also discovered that spaces out in the wild will color our perception. Actions done in a negative space can make us feel disconnected and drained. The same action done in a positive place instead becomes lively and energizing. These positive places are marked with creativity and resilience, but unfortunately are rare, precarious, and inaccessible. We spend most of our time in the negative spaces, and even spaces we believe to be good, could secretly be hurtful.
Leadership, Coaching, and Self Help
In 2018, I heard a story that didn't make any sense to me. A man faced a huge emotional breakdown which required a lot of therapy. He broke-down because he faced an emotional overload while fighting a forest fire. The mystery to me was that he didn't realize he was suffering until 6 months later.
What was the emotional overload?
What was going on in his mind for those 6 months?
What I have found is that narrative is our way of making sense of the world around us, but we don't always have control over that narrative (see the video above on bad story vs. good story in this context).
There is a saying that if you are stuck in a hole, the best thing to do is to stop digging. Yet time and time again, people will keep metaphorically digging deeper and deeper. I have a few beliefs about why this happens (watch the video above). I also believe there are ways to fix this.
This work is an ongoing effort to paint a complete picture of what it means to be resilient and adaptable in the modern day. It combines insights from:
Wilderness fire fighters taking on Nappa Valley in 2017,
Delta Force Soldiers hunting Zarqawi,
A Marine who lost his child,
ICU Nurses who turned naivete into coping,
An emergency worker creating a safe space for his students,
The founder of a design agency battling cancer,
An art student learning harsh truths,
and so many more people that I've gotten to interview and befriend. My craft is to understand their stories and explain how they can affect yours.
By diving down in the particulars, I believe it is possible for people to practice being resilient when they need it most. Part of my job is to understand how to rewrite the stories we tell ourselves.
I am always available to help.
Open for consultation:
Yuri Zaitsev | firstname.lastname@example.org