Resilience has become the latest buzz word, it has muscled its way past authenticity, steamrollered over re-imagining, bulldozed pivoting, platforms, onboarding and failure. It has cemented itself to the floor like a huge statue to toughness and unflinching perseverance. Imagine a defiant captain on the bow of the boat in a huge storm shouting and defiant as waves wash over the captain and the boat, one after the other.
In fact, I am part of a small team putting together an art workshop including resilience, I just went to the 9th OuiShare Summit in Lisbon where we had a whole session on the very subject of resilience in the context of freelancers.
Everywhere you turn there is resilience.
The dictionary definition says ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.’
What ‘difficulties’? and what is meant by ‘toughness’?
Many talk about the ability to celebrate failure, often in some fake macho way, like ‘yippee, ye-haaa, whoop-de-dooooo, I fucked up again, great!! I am not a huge fan of this fake toughness. I wrote about this recently on my personal blog, see more in the further reading after this post.
Real toughness is the opposite to ‘tough’ it is the bravery to be open, vulnerable and to be comfortable about talking about our real emotions, setting boundaries and being able to be compassionate, kind, generous, and empathetic with ourselves and others.
It takes the ability to reflect, to learn, to dig deep into our emotions, then move forward, let go and re-write the story in a positive way for now and the future. It is not this phoney burying of things and just having a stiff upper lip, soldiering on and toughing it out.
That is only kidding ourselves and losing the opportunity to learn and progress to better things.
Failing has emotion attached whoever you are.
So being able to deal with ‘difficulties’ is not about ‘toughness’ it is about being able to be vulnerable, to embrace our emotions, to seek help, to be open, to be willing to learn, to be able to let got and to be kind to ourselves, to not seek to blame, but to seek only to improve now.
I am not sure that I even like the word resilience as it’s commonly thought and defined. I think we could choose to use a better word, empathy.
So, as a freelancer, do not sit in your home office and go all BBC ‘Apprentice’ style and look in the mirror and say to yourself ‘I am the tiger of my home office..grrr’. Instead, look in the mirror, look at your difficulties, rumble with them as Brene Brown would say, dig into the emotions, take the learning, re-write the truths, set new boundaries and move on, by letting go.
Resilience comes from the ability to stay true to your values, to ignore the critic and to turn off the shallowness of the digitalised, social media, superficial connectedness vortex that we’ve become sucked into and to choose to block yourself out to do deep, focused and meaningful work. To buck the trend, to not fit in, be different.
You do not need to be tough to overcome challenges and stay strong, you need to have the bravery to truly face the challenges, analyse them, run with them and make now the moment to do better.
It is not being impervious to things, it is being open and curious that brings strength as a person. By the way, this is not an overnight process, our emotions matter and are not to be trivialised in some buzz word fest of shallowness and bravado surrounding failures, to be truly resilient takes time.
Liberate yourself from the need to be ‘tough’, resilience comes from being brave enough to be vulnerable.