I had the occasion one morning to take note of a piece of cross-stitched artwork. This simple treasure hangs in a place of honor in my kitchen. The inscription is a simple poem:
“There is no friend like an old friend
Who has shared our morning days,
No greeting like his welcome,
No homage like his praise
Same as a scentless sunflower
With gaudy crown of gold,
But friendship is the breeding rose
With sweetness in every fold.”
The three initials at the bottom are those of my grandmother, and this small bit of cloth sits behind the glass of a simple wooden frame. It hangs in the same place in my home as it hung in hers so many, many years ago. It hangs in a place that ensures everyone who enters my home sees it.
Grandma is gone now, the victim of one of the diseases that takes away grandmas and grandpas. But grandmas and grandpas have a way of leaving us little messages, little reminders that no illness can take away, no amount of time can silence.
It is through these small reminders that we relive the sweetness of their company and the wisdom of their years. These gentle prodding’s that they leave behind continue to remind us what is truly important in life and how best to enjoy the time we have with our friends, our family and our grandchildren.
Each New Year’s Day morning, as I all reflect on resolutions and goals, I find myself drawn to this simple bit of cloth and my grandmother’s wisdom. This year I decided to give the gift of resilience by promoting resilience and the skills needed to create resilience in myself, my family, my colleagues and my clients. I invite you to join me in building your resilience.
We all build our resilience through our life’s experiences, filling our canteens in good times and guzzling from them in bad. Whether the challenge is widespread, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis, or more personal, like Popeye’s old friend Whimpy, whose wants exceed his wallet prompting the familiar refrain, “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” the difference between those who thrive and those who do not is their resilience.
The Resilience Factor
Living in Florida, I am used to the spring and summertime ritual of hurricane preparedness. Long before I became an expert in the field of disaster planning, preparation, education, response and recovery, I was expert in my own family’s hurricane preparation.
All Floridians know the drill: Plywood for your windows, three days of food per person, and fill your bathtub with water. Being an overachiever all of my life, I of course have a pantry full of food (okay, so I shop at Costco), I share a commercial generator with my mother who lives next door, and I even have a 40,000-gallon bathtub. In Florida, we call it a swimming pool.
My 40,000-gallon bathtub is a beautiful thing. It is a gathering place for the family, our own little oasis in the southern heat. The water is chlorinated so it stores well, and when we have to use it as our emergency water reserve we have a small filtration and de-chlorination device that keeps the water safe to drink.
But all of this physical preparation is just one small aspect of resilience, and resilience is how we all get through life’s little and not-so-little disasters.
Before we can really discuss resilience, we have to understand a few simple definitions. First what is a disaster? A disaster is when your needs exceed your resources. During the holiday shopping season we all run into our own little mini-disasters. It is not uncommon, like Whimpy, for our wants to exceed our wallets.
Resilience is the opposite of a disaster. Resilience is when your resources exceed your needs. When we are out shopping for the holidays and the cash is low, we all have the same call of resilience, “Charge it!”
But even this leaves the majority of resilience unaccounted for. Resilience is far more than physical or even financial resource management. Resilience begs the question, “How big is the bathtub, and how do you build a 40,000-gallon bathtub in your soul?”
There are seven areas of human functioning:
Each of these areas of human functioning have a corresponding form of resilience—a canteen that we fill in the time between disasters and that we draw from during the response to a disaster.
It is through the maintenance and enhancement of resilience, both for ourselves as individuals as well as for the processes by which we provide for the most critical needs of our businesses and families, that we ensure that with whom we share our lives and careers thrive with us despite the adversity that faces us.