There is nothing unattractive about the word resilience; for it connotes a determination to withstand any hardship that life might launch your journey. To call someone resilient is a compliment without question and in their minds eyes as they hear this word they conjure up images of their determined and heroic fears as they overcame the insurmountable obstacle that they confronted and overcame on their path. Resilience is a fascinating word and understanding what is represents, where it comes from and how it has changed the world is the topic of this book. As we explore the genetic, behavioral and cultural aspects of resilience we hope to gain a better understanding of this aspect of human existence and whether it has evolved or devolved over time and if so what societal factors have played their roles in the changing nature of man. Resilience is a quality more frequently associated with men but women possess the characteristic in the same manner but with its expression manifested in ostensibly different ways. The female equivalent of resilience lacks the jagged edges that is observed in the male and tend towards a resilience that hopes for a reconciliation, while the male version is more concerned with the use of resilience for the annihilation of their enemies.
Regardless this omnipresent aspect of human existence has provided an invaluable attribute allowing the evolution of the human species in harsh planetary conditions and should be rightly celebrated. But what exactly is resilience and how does one person have it and the other does not?
Well the genetics argument is always sure to find a place at the negotiating table a d rightfully so, for without these building blocks every other aspect of our existence would be never have materialized. These are the building blocks of life but on their own they are useless and depend on the conditions of nature that surround them and guide their functional direction. What is fascinating about the study of the nature-nuture dichotomy Is the extent that each of these roles play in the eventual outcome of human behavioral characteristics and how their influence is contantly dynamic throughout the individuals lifespan. Like the concept of neuroplasticity the possibility for change is actual and with the correct external forces both the genetic code and its accompanying neurophysiological expression are creatures of never ending change.
So back to that admirable but not quite definable quality called resilience. Thee are many instances throughout history that can be used to demonstrate how resilience can be taught and whatever genetic deficits the individual possessed become subjugated to the intense behavioral conditioning which from a physiological standpoint will result in a rewiring of the central neural apparatus which leads onto a behavioral repertoire that could just as easily be concluded emanated from the individuals genetic code. The Spartans had a habit of sending their seven year old sons out into the wilderness to fend for themselves against the harsh winter conditions and ravenous dogs and those that survived were clearly in possession of the elements of resilience and gave hope to the masters that their potential be developed.
There are many stories of great heroic efforts on the battlefields of history where men displayed this quality with abundance and a determination to never up. They were prepared to give up their lives for the cause in which they believed and the resilience they showed is etched in the many paintings of the wars of the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. However the resilience of yesteryear when men would face each other directly on the battlefield of death has is not quite the same resilience that is required today in the much more civilized world of digital technology, communications and public relation management. There has been a shift in the way that battles are now fought with most being conducted on the world wide web and employing the strategies of cyber attacks. The destruction of reputations and the propagation of propaganda have escalated and the ability to counter false information is fortunately more accessible to the common man. The resilience required here is closer to what would be described as dogged determination but is still defined by the refusal to give up in the face of overwhelmingly odds.
The resilience that is required in the world of business and healthcare are essential for any project to succeed and also communicate to the world your intention to see every job or challenge all the way through to the end. These characteristics endear others to the journey on which you are on and act as forces of great inspiration. The spectacle of one man never giving up until he achieves is goal is the story of man and there are many individuals who yearn to know that such individuals exist and anything is possible with persistence, tenacity and a refusal to give up. There is always a solution to everything in life, except death, and even that concept s being currently questioned in the labs of the anti –aging intellectuals such Aubrey DE Gray.
One of the most perfect examples in history of resilience was Nelson Mandela who after almost thirty years in jail emerged with all his faculties intact and willing to forgive his captors. Resilience is one of the expressions of spirituality and the sense of knowingness that comes with it is one of the fundamental characteristics of a profound belief in self and some would argue God, as God exists within us all.
Churchill once famously said to the house of Parliament on the brink of what seemed like an inevitable British defeat, “never, never, never give up” and in these words of dogged resilience he instilled in his people the hope that they could overcome the Nazi war machine. Resilience is fundamentally a state of mind and whether it is genetically coded or/and environmentally nurtured it is one of the most critical defining features of men who fail and those that succeed.