When terrorists detonated the truck bomb in the small parking lot in back of our embassy building in early August, 1998, I was on the top floor of a high rise building next door. The building shook while the teacup on the table rattled. Then stability returned. The resilience of the Cooperative Bank Building saved us.
Over the next few months another form of resilience helped me to function – the capacity to recover. Beth Payne, a former colleague and resilience expert, makes five recommendations on resilience.
Comments from my personal experience as a survivor and leader follow.
HOW TO RECOVER FROM DIFFICULTY
#1 Practice Self Care
- Only I could do that for myself
#2 Engage in Problem Solving
- I had to listen to how people identified the problem to help solve it
- Their job was to correctly identify it; mine was to help fix it
- The closer people were to the problem the better the job they did
#3 Find Meaning and Purpose
- First, we had to grieve with funerals and memorials
- Next, we celebrated milestones
- Then, we returned to traditions
- And, we did this together
#4 Encourage Social Support
- In the workplace we functioned in teams
- In the community, individuals led
- My mantra was “be kind to yourself and be kind to one another”
- Letters from family and friends meant everything
#5 Cultivate a Positive Outlook
- See Self Care
- I took pleasure in outside work activities
- Humor and wisecracking cut the tension
- I wore bright colors
For further information, go to https://payneresilience.com/.
Surviving a pandemic and its effects demand other forms of resilience. Recently, Forbes Magazine highlighted an interview with astronauts who had spent months in isolation. Here is what they suggest:
- See the Bigger Picture & Set Realistic Expectations
- Stay Busy & Keep Your Mind Active
- Keep Your Body Active, Too
- Keep Your Base of Operations Clean & Comfortable
- Take Stock of Your Supplies
- Keep Channels of Communication Open
- Do Things to Help Each Other & Keep Spirits Up
A few weeks after the bombing, a friend sent me a poster by Mary Anne Redmacher. I put it in the lobby of our crowded workplace. This undergirds resilience.
- When was the last time you had to demonstrate resilience? How did you do it? What did you learn from it?
- What would you have to change if you followed each of Beth Payne’s five suggestions?
- Which of the recommendations from the astronauts are you already following? Which are the easiest? Which are the hardest? Where can you get help?