What is Resilience?

There are many different definitions of what resilience is. Some of the most consistent aspects of those definitions relate to an individual’s capacity and ability to cope with changes and challenges, and to bounce back during difficult times.  These definitions refer to an individual’s innate capacity to deal with adversity without becoming overwhelmed by it.  From this perspective, a resilient individual is one who is able to:

  • cope well with high levels of ongoing disruptive change;
  • sustain good health and energy when under constant pressure;
  • bounce back easily from setbacks;
  • overcome adversities;
  • change to a new way of working and living when an old way is no longer possible.

The literature tells us that there are four key characteristics common to the experience of people who are considered to be resilient.  People who may be described as resilient have experience of:

These characteristics appear consistent across contexts and across the age span. So, whether you are examining resilience from the perspective of an individual, a community or an organisation, there will be common threads in relation to what impacts positively and negatively on the resilience of individuals in each of these contexts.

Resilient organisations and communities are made up of resilient individuals.

When it comes to promoting resilience, whether it be in an organisational or community context, promotion of the resilience of the individuals within those contexts is key.

Organisational Resilience refers to the ability of an organisation to achieve its core objectives in the face of adversity/change/challenge.

Community Resilience refers to the individual and collective capacity of individuals and institutions to respond to and influence the course of social and economic change.  In other words, community resilience is the capacity of individuals and institutions to adapt and change.

Although the capacity for resilience is innate in individuals, it is not static.  Resilience can be nurtured in an environment which fosters the four characteristics discussed above. 

Specific programs, training, actions and interactions can be put in place to promote and enhance resilience in individuals, communities and organisations. 

RICO can provide and develop a range of training, processes and strategies which will facilitate resilience in individuals, communities and organisations.

© Gloria Claessen 2006.