Resilient Self-Authorship

Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

Personal and organizational resilience have been a feature of many of our senior leadership strategy workshops over the last decade. Shortly after the 2008 crash, I gathered a team of experts that included psychologists, coaches, consultants and measurement experts to develop a new holistic resilience measurement and guidance tool.

Several breakthroughs occurred through our research and field work. First, we redefined the mental model of resilience from bouncing back, where the expectation is for a recovery and restoration of what existed before a collapse, to bouncing forward, where, enabled by renewal and a new equilibrium, the development appears in a new form and octave of performance.

Listen here: Episode 102 — Resilient Self-Authorship

Second, we recognized that a given level of resilience is a compound outcome shaped by multiple inputs, including experience, beliefs, choices, mindset, social setting, environment, personal nature and character.

Third, we defined resilience as a skill — a set of practices and disciplines that can be developed and improved over time.

Fourth, we outlined five pillars of resilience: physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual. The five pillars are color-coded and each one includes five behavioral measures.

Fifth, we developed a set of strategies designed to boost each of the five resilience pillars.

The personal discoveries and conversations that ensued in my executive team workshops that used the Five Pillars of Resilience assessment tool were revelatory and energizing. Over the years since we introduced this framework, many who were part of those teams have told me they continue to refer to their results and to utilize the resilience coaching strategies they learned.

Following the success of the individual Five Pillars framework, we developed a complementary tool to evaluate organizational resilience. The organizational framework posits that resilient teams and organizations encourage and even require their members to have a high level of personal resilience. It identifies 20 characteristics of best-in-class resilient companies that teams and organizations can use as a basis for comparison. Many teams that undergo this evaluation take immediate and concrete actions to strengthen their identified resilience insufficiencies.

As we entered a new decade, I’ve been reflecting on a shift I’ve observed to a degraded discernment and sense-making capacity caused by increasing speed, reactivity, and complexity in the world. This change requires us to update our individual and collective mental models and ways of operating so we can develop the resilience and agility necessary to navigate the civilizational crises we encounter in our chaotic and noisy world.

For example, sense-making is challenged significantly for a variety of reasons, including a highly polarized culture, media wars, and an easily confused and distorted information ecosystem.

To function effectively in this environment, we are forced to develop new capacities. One element of this updating process is the maturation of personal sovereignty, which for practical reasons I have re-named self-authorship.

Key to this more accurate and realistic term is the notion of having agency, which means recognizing and owning one’s power to decide and take action and feeling empowered to take charge of one’s direction in life. Because of its historical context, the word “sovereignty” connotes dominion and control, yet today’s reality is that we do not have dominion over our eco-system. Furthermore, sovereignty is not the best mental model to promote the considerations and strategies of a resilient and adaptive life.

Here are five elements and capacities that I believe outline resilient self-authorship. After reading through them, please send me your reflective thoughts about this question:

➢ What else must be integrated into the process and meaning architecture of resilient self-authorship?

  1. Self-starting: the capacity to exercise will power, to initiate and to cause movement. It requires you to be your own launching pad, to have the courage to begin a directional movement without any need for external validation.
  2. Self-regulating: the capacity to rebalance, find a new center and become grounded in a newly emerging situation. It requires you to be somatically and energetically aware of, and in touch with, yourself. This includes the ability to modulate your mental, psychological, and energetic conditions.
  3. Self-directing: the capacity to course correct as you navigate both the interior and exterior worlds. It requires you to perceive what’s happening, map the changing terrain, and then find your true north. This includes an agile ability to update your sense-making map so you can create useful frameworks that help you traverse changing social, cultural and meaning terrains.
  4. Self-forgiving: the capacity and practice of honoring the journey and letting go of yesterday’s folly and disappointment. It requires you to undergo a renewal that enables you to move forward free of the weighty baggage of the past. This includes the ability to release self-limiting beliefs and cynicism and to recover quickly from disillusionment, displacement, and disconnection.
  5. Self-creating: the capacity to have agency, shape your perceptions, and mold your environment. This requires you to rebirth yourself and your potential. It includes bringing focus to what matters by connecting existing dots and creating new “self-authored” dots that shape the environment.

Given these five capacities, how would you evaluate your own resilient self-authorship?

Reflect on the extent to which these five broad capacities of resilient self-authoring are robustly intact and active in your knowledge of yourself. The statements below represent ideal situations and deliberately are written generically. Do not be put off by this approach: it is meant to offer you the opportunity to evaluate yourself against the desired state.

Assess each of the statements below using a 1–5 rating scale in which 1=not true; 2=seldom true; 3=occasionally true; 4=generally true; 5=almost always true.

In my experience of myself I demonstrate these characteristics:

1) Self-starting: the capacity to initiate movement without external validation.

2) Self-regulating: the capacity to rebalance energetically, psychologically, and somatically to become grounded in a newly emerging situation.

3) Self-directing: the capacity to map the changing terrain and find my true north.

4) Self-forgiving: the capacity to release self-limiting beliefs, let go of yesterday’s disappointments, and catalyze renewal.

5) Self-creating: the capacity to have agency, shape my perceptions and mold my world.

Identify and reflect on your strengths by scoring yourself on these five resilient self-authoring capacities. Identify the specific actions you will take to address the opportunities they represent.

Here are a few questions to get your exploration going:

  1. Which of the above capacities represent your strengths?
  2. What can you learn from these strengths? How will you build on them?
  3. What opportunities will you prioritize to cultivate your resilient self-authoring?
  4. What actions and behaviors will enhance your self-authoring resilience?
  5. What action will you take this week to address your opportunities?

Now it’s your turn. Turn the key. Build your sense of resilient self-authoring by cultivating the above five capacities. Encourage environments in which you dialogue openly with others about these ideas to grow and build your own capabilities. Make yourself a coaching source to help others take advantage of their own self-starting, self-directing, self-regulating, self-forgiving, and self-creating opportunities.

You can listen to an audio version of this by subscribing to the Create New Futures podcast



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