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The Dark Side of Resilience

We always want to celebrate people who bounce back from hardships. Resilience is a quality people never get scolded for having. But sometimes—maybe they should? In an article for Harvard Business Review, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Derek Lusk discuss how excessive resilience can actually be a detriment to business.

Self-Assured of Nothing

One way resilience can work against you is when it comes to unrealistic goals. An overly resilient person might work toward an overly ambitious goal for years without giving up—and without ever succeeding either. This is called “false hope syndrome.” What would be more practical in such a situation is for a person to adjust his or her goals to more achievable levels.

Similarly, leaders who have too much resilience might incur negative effects too. It has been found that leaders who approach stressful situations fearlessly are also more likely to lack self-awareness and overestimate their abilities. In other words, in the process of becoming numb to fear, the leaders also accidentally become numb to all other information that would otherwise help them succeed. They become delusional, to no one’s benefit. And even worse—such people are often identified as having “high potential”!

Here is one more way that too much resilience can be harmful:

… too much resilience could make people overly tolerant of adversity. At work, this can translate into putting up with boring or demoralizing jobs — and particularly bad bosses — for longer than needed. In America, 75% of employees consider their direct line manager the worst part of their job, and 65% would take a pay cut if they could replace their boss with someone else. Yet there is no indication that people actually act on these attitudes, with job tenure remaining stable over the years despite ubiquitous access to career opportunities and the rise of passive recruitment introduced by the digital revolution. … Perhaps if they were less resilient, they would be more likely to improve their job circumstances…

So the takeaway here is that, yes, resilience is very good—unless it causes you to put up with intolerable situations, or it causes you to retreat into delusional single-mindedness.

You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2017/08/the-dark-side-of-resilience

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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