Before we can begin to fill our canteens of resilience, we must first understand what is in each canteen and how the canteens contribute to our individual survival.
Physical resilience is exactly as the name implies—it is the physical capacity to continue working in light of physical and even emotional stress. We enhance our physical resilience by maintaining our health and living a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet, both at home and at work, including during the disaster; regular exercise; and adequate rest, even during the disaster, are essential to “filling” your canteen of physical resilience and maintaining that resilience while responding to a disaster.
Emotional resilience deals directly with what we feel and how we respond to it. The old saying “attitude counts” is never more true than when filling your canteen of emotional resilience. Loving and being loved, including loving yourself, recognizing the everyday joys of life, and ensuring that you have the opportunity for boundless joy and genuine happiness, fill your canteen with the sweet emotions that counterbalance the many unpleasant and at times even horrific scenes we all encounter when responding to disaster. On the other hand, if you have filled your emotional canteen with despair, selfloathing, angst and animus, then you will have nothing but bitter drags from which to drink when in the midst of a disaster response.
Intellectual resilience is bolstered by the very act of learning. As we gain experience and knowledge, we slowly imprint new patterns that we may later use to compare and ultimately recognize as familiar situations and events that unfold during a disaster. The more of these patterns that we have in our intellectual canteen, the more quickly we can recognize and adapt to the ever-changing disaster environment. Just as we learn the patterns of a heartbeat or the patterns of respiration, we can learn the many patterns that exist within medicine—patterns that occur more frequently and more rapidly, but are no different when they occur during a disaster event. When we can recognize these patterns quickly, we can respond quickly, thus bolstering our intellectual resilience.
Interpersonal resilience is bolstered through our relationships with those we hold dear: spouses and significant others; children and grandchildren; parents; relatives; friends; and co-workers. We fill our canteen of interpersonal resilience with memories and comforting mental images that carry us through our times of separation. These relationships also safeguard our lives and our emotions. Disaster response is a high-risk sport, not unlike scuba diving, and for that reason it requires that you have a buddy to check on you and ensure that you are not becoming overwhelmed—in other words, to ensure that none of your canteens of resilience are running dry. Through these relationships we not only fill our canteens, but we also keep watch on each other.
Societal resilience comes from the ties that bind us to our neighbors and our communities. The old saying “no man is an island” does not only apply to relationships, but also to the place we each hold in a greater society. Large scale disasters test the cohesiveness of communities, while the small personal disasters test the metal of society. Our willingness to be responsible for not only ourselves but also a greater common good fills our canteens of societal resilience as we serve others in concert with like-minded people.
Tactical resilience grows through the application skills we have practiced in our day-to-day lives as we have moved through our careers and are that with which we fill our canteen of functional resilience. Like the patterns in our canteen of intellectual resilience, the skills of our tactical resilience are no different at times of disaster response than they are at times between disasters. We need only be able to access those skills more quickly and perform them more calmly.
Spiritual resilience is somewhat different because the canteen of spiritual resilience is not filled by what we believe, but rather by the fact that we do believe. Research in the area of resilience has shown that the very act of believing enforces an intelligence beyond ourselves. A higher purpose for higher power bolsters our resilience, improves our function and increases our likelihood to master adversity. In short, the research proves that you are more resilient if you believe in God.
If our total resilience is a 40,000-gallon bathtub, then each of these seven categories of resilience is a canteen. They are the “water supply” we carry with us at every moment.
Ideally, when adversity strikes, all seven of our canteens are full.
But what does all this have to do with business strategic planning?
When adversity strikes, resilience helps the group, the individual, and ultimately the business survive. Recall that a disaster is when needs exceed resources, while resilience is when resources exceed needs. Adversity is as unpredictable as it is varied. You can no more predict when adversity will occur than what the adversity will be. On the other hand, there are only a limited number of ways that adversity can impact an individual or a business. In these circumstances, process analysis, triage and resilience, and maintaining resources in excess of needs best mitigates these limited points of vulnerability.
The Love Connection
We hear the word “love” throughout modern society. We are told to love our customers, and that as customers we are loved. We are told to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are told that there is no greater gift than love. We even have a special holiday, Valentine’s Day, dedicated to the notion of love.
Love has been described as a basic building block of resilience, the foundation of the family, and the goal of marriage. But does love have a place in business?
“We love our customers.”
“We love our employees.”
“We love the boss.”
“We love your problems.”
It seems that American business loves everyone and everything. Perhaps that’s because most of today’s business leaders were born or grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, the decades of love. Or, more likely, it is a semantic error or a marketer’s ploy.
The problem comes from the fact that in English we have only one word for the many meanings “love.” In ancient Greece people could use one of five words to describe the various forms of love. Each of the five ancient words has a modern day English correlate.
- Philia – Brotherly Love, that sense of fellowship we share with friends, colleagues and neighbors. Philanthropy is an example of this type of love.
- Storge – Family Love, that sense of parental caring, concern and protectiveness felt not only for our children, but for our entire family. Although in Greek this was limited to blood relatives, in English this type of love is often extended to those we treat like family, including our employees, our closest friends, our businesses and even our customers.
- Agape – Devotional Love, that sense of loyalty and self-sacrifice shared with those we hold most dear. Those for whom we feel agape hold the highest of importance in our lives, and we often place their needs ahead of our own needs as well as all others we claim to “love.”
- Eros – Sexual Love, that sense of passion and physical attraction we share with our sexual partner. The word “erotic” is not only derived from the Greek word “eros,” but is also the best example of this form of love.
- Thelema – Ambition, although not often viewed in English as a form of love, in Greek, thelema captures not only the desire to achieve, but also the self-love required to believe that you deserve to succeed and that your own happiness is worth the effort required to achieve your ambitions.
But why is this distinction important?
Love is one of those wellsprings of emotional resilience. Beyond the obvious connection to resilience, if a business truly “loves” its employees, those employees can draw strength both from the relationship (interpersonal resilience) as well as the sense of being “loved” (emotional resilience). Providing this type of workplace support not only enables employees to work longer and stronger in the face of business adversity, but it also helps make those employees happier about helping a company that faces adversity.
The problem is that we often use the word “love” when we mean “like.” Love is a choice. Like is a feeling. Nearly everyone has experienced the situation where we have met somebody that we truly like. He or she has some quality that engages us, connects with us and spurs us to seek the person’s company and friendship. Similarly, we have met individuals whom we simply do not like. We do not make the active decision not to like them. They simply “turn us off.” Both reactions—like and dislike—are emotional responses. However, in the confusing English language, we often utilize “love” as the word to describe that unplanned and controlled response of liking someone. We even have a phrase for it: “fall in love.”
Love is actually an act of choice. We frequently state that we love somebody “because” of a particular action, personality trait or other attribute. We may even hear a husband or wife state, “I do not like him/her, but I love him/her.” In this circumstance the description is quite correct. The immediate and uncontrolled response (or the emotional response) is dislike. However, for some reason known only to that individual, he or she chooses to love the individual despite the fact that he or she does not like the other person.
When we say that we love our customers or love our employees, it is an active choice. We reach out to them with what the Greeks would call “philia,” brotherly love, and by so doing we make ourselves and our businesses stronger and more resilient.
Father Robert Mitchell, a noted Catholic priest and philosopher, once wrote of the difference between “like” and “love.” Father Mitchell believes that “like” is an uncontrollable emotion, a reflexive response to our experience of another individual and the way we interact with the person. According to Father Mitchell, “liking” or “disliking” someone is as uncontrollable as the color of our eyes or the color of our hair.
On the other hand, “love,” in Father Mitchell’s world, is a choice, an active decision based on the type of relationship we choose to have with another individual. Father Mitchell states that while we may respect some individuals, very often we will neither like nor love them. Similarly, Father Mitchell believes that there are many people whom we like intrinsically. That is, our experience of them and our interactions with them lead us to the inevitable response of genuinely liking these people, yet we choose not to love them. As Father Mitchell states, it is nice if we like them as well, but we can choose to love somebody—to care for the person as an individual, and more important, care what happens to the person, even without respecting or liking him or her as a person.
This final paradox, that of loving without liking, is the reason love is the ultimate “energizing” emotion. It is energizing because love is an active choice decision we make to not only extend a relationship to someone else, but also to take control of ourselves and our lives. For Father Mitchell, to love is the ultimate empowerment.
Another Catholic priest and philosopher, Father Dan Schulte, offers a functional definition of love:
“Love is a unifying response between two people who care for and have said ‘Yes’ to each other’s total being. It implies mutual respect, freedom and trust, and seeks the happiness and fulfillment of each other as a common goal.”
For love to be the basic building block of resilience it must not only be a choice, as Father Mitchell has stated, but it must also fulfill all of the basic tenants of Father Schulte’s definition.
“Love is a unifying response …”
In this phrase Father Schulte encapsulates the most basic essence of the choice to love as well as its greatest hurdle. Love is a unifying response, binding the person making the love decision to the person who is the recipient of that gift. It unites these two individuals, thus creating something greater than the sum of its two parts.
“… who care for and have said ‘Yes’ to each other’s total being.”
Father Schulte echoes Father Mitchell’s sentiment that love is a choice—a choice to accept one’s partner in a relationship exactly as he or she is, with no conditions, no qualifications, no equivocation.
It has been said that “no one self can see one’s self through the eyes of another.” If this is true, then Father Schulte’s definition holds that much more power as a building block of resilience. When we love another and enter into that “unifying” relationship, we not only see ourselves as we are, but we also find acceptance of ourselves as we are, not the way we wish we could be. Through this acceptance we can come to respect ourselves, then to like ourselves, and finally we can make the active choice to love ourselves in the same way we love others.
“It implies mutual respect, freedom and trust …”
Father Schulte emphasizes that the choice to love grows from the roots of respect. To love ourselves we must first respect ourselves. From this self-respect, Father Mitchell’s emotional response to like ourselves springs. Similarly, if we are to love another person, we must first respect him or her. That respect grows from absolute and unconditional acceptance. Once respect is present, it demonstrates itself through trust. Trust, like love, is an active decision. Paraphrasing Father Mitchell, “We do not choose to like; that is an uncontrollable emotional response. But we do choose to trust (love).”
“… and seek the happiness and fulfillment of each other as a common goal.”
Finally, Father Schulte reminds us that the choice to love is an active, ongoing and demonstrative choice. We manifest this choice to love through the goals we have for the relationship. If our goals for the relationship are completely focused upon ourselves, then the relationship may represent respect and even like, but it is clearly not love. It does not contribute to our resilience.
If, on the other hand, our goal of the relationship is strictly to please another person and does not include ourselves actively within the relationship, then again it may represent respect and even like, but it is not love. It does not contribute to our resilience.
For a relationship to actively demonstrate love it must balance our own self-interests with our desire to be selfless. If love is unifying, then the love relationship becomes a true individual—that is, a sum of the two people who choose to share the relationship. The contribution of love as a basic building block of resilience is that by choosing to create this love relationship we choose to create a reservoir of resilience for two.
For the Love of Business
In the business world the proliferation of the phase “we love our customers” has been criticized as minimizing the meaning and importance of love. Since many employees ignore the company’s desire to love the customer, that criticism is quite true. Father Schulte, in his definition, points out that love is a unifying response; it binds those in the relationship together, creating a new individual—the love relationship itself.
In his definition, those in the love relationship choose to “care for and say ‘yes’ to each other’s total being.” Here Father Schulte and Father Mitchell agree completely: Love does not require that you “like” the other individual, only that you choose to love. But how many of our customers do we have the immediate emotional response of dislike? Father Mitchell and Father Schulte prove here that we can embrace that “dislike” and still choose to love that customer.
By now you may be asking, “How can I love somebody whom I dislike?” Father Schulte’s definition answers this question as well by including that love implies mutual respect. Just as Father Mitchell stated that respect is the foundation for love, Father Schulte states it is an absolute pre-requisite. Even if we dislike our customers we can still respect them and perhaps even accept them as they are. Through these decisions, we can make the choice to love them.
Finally, Father Schulte points out that a love relationship requires that we seek the “happiness and fulfillment of each other as a common goal.” Is this not the goal of every business? Few of us work to be unhappy, despite the fact that for many, unhappiness is indeed the end result. Instead, we speak to gain fulfillment and happiness through the work we do. Father Schulte points out that it is not the work that creates the fulfillment and happiness, but rather the relationships we garner from that work. Interestingly, when the relationships from our work provide fulfillment and happiness, we need the last pre-requisite to love our customers.
But what if our customers refuses to enter into this love relationship? What if our customers do not care for us, are not accepting of us, do not respect us, do not trust us or do not seek our happiness or fulfillment as their goal? Increasingly in American society we find an almost schizophrenic response to the concept of customers and businesses and/or businesspeople entering into a love relationship.
When we fill the role of customer we are often impatient, untrusting, unaccepting, and unloving. Yet when we are in our own business and work environment, we strive to respect, accept and even love those we serve. Father Mitchell points out that because love is choice we can choose to offer love even when the requirements of a true love relationship are not there. For Father Mitchell this is a form of self-reliance and self-respect. He states that it is the ultimate form of self-love to not allow another person to denigrate decisions and the ideal that we have set for ourselves. This means that even though we may not like our customers, even though our customers may disrespect us, we can still choose to offer them love.
Now, this is not to say that we should allow ourselves to be abused, nor should we allow ourselves to be exploited. There is a vast difference between offering love and becoming a victim of our own love choice. In offering love we are respecting our own choice to enter into a love relationship; however, that relationship becomes exploitive when it is not a unified response—when we are not cared for nor accepted. We may offer love despite apparent disrespect, but if disrespect, distrust and a failure to value our happiness and fulfillment are what we receive in return for our love choice, then it is not love. Rather, it is masochistic to remain in the relationship.
For many years it was the professional responsibility of physicians to constantly evaluate their relationship with their patients. The doctor/patient relationship was seen as the ultimate love relationship. In that relationship, the physician, along with the patient, sought health and happiness; however, when evaluating that relationship, if the physician found that the relationship itself was not healthy, either for the doctor or the patient, that physician was both morally and ethically bound to end that doctor/patient relationship and assist the patient in finding a new physician.
Unfortunately, as healthcare became more a business and less a relationship, physicians began to abandon this professional responsibility, remaining in relationships where they were neither respected nor trusted and where they failed to respect or trust their patient. Over time, the professional decisions to find the patient a more supportive relationship became replaced with the legal decision to “sever the doctor/patient relationship.” It is interesting to note that about the same time the number of malpractice lawsuits in the United States began an exponential rise.
In any choice to enter into a love relationship there must be the inherent choice to end that relationship if it fails to meet the basic requirements of love. This is a prospect that is frightening to many businesses; however, if a business is to be financially resilient, if it is to be able to extend the same love relationship to its employees as it frequently extends to its customers, then it must obey the moral imperative to love its customers enough to seek for them the best business relationship possible, even if it is with another business. Think about it…How often has a business garnered our undying loyalty by referring us elsewhere for service they cannot truly meet?
The seven canteens of resilience are all based on this simple emotion: Love. Whether it is our physical resilience, our emotional resilience, our intellectual resilience, our interpersonal resilience, our societal resilience, our tactical resilience, or our spiritual resilience, each requires that we make the active decision to love in order to build that resilience—in order to fill that canteen. The choice to love is the basic building block not only of friendships, marriages and resilience, but it is also the basic building block of business. In all our efforts, we must fill our 40,000-gallon bathtub of resilience with this basic element of resilience: Love.
When adversity strikes, we will sip or even gulp from each of these canteens. If we have prepared well, our 40,000-gallon bathtub is full. At the end of each day, at a moment of repose, we refill each of these canteens from that 40,000-gallon reserve. Only then are we truly resilient.