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Resilience is about being able  
to overcome the unexpected.  
Sustainability is about survival.  
The goal of resilience is to thrive.
-Jamais Cascio

We weather so much in this life.

Loss, disappointment, heartbreak…even the intensity of a busy day can be exhausting.

Amidst all of this…and the broader landscape of our communities, work, and world: how do we strengthen our ability to move through hardship (even literal catastrophe in some instances) and generate greater resilience?

The qualities of resilience are sometimes referred to as grit or flexibility, and the magic in an individual, institution or system is the transformation of vulnerability into power.

If we truly learn from our mistakes, what are the decisions we make about our lives and our communities if we can acknowledge and employ the challenges we’ve endured, even when (perhaps especially) when we had no control over them?

Resilience asks us–at any stage of life or at any scale–to practice being comfortable with discomfort, to clarify where we can affect change and where we cannot, to be grateful for the lessons we learn and use them as compost for future experience, and to promote honest and caring relationships with ourselves and those in our lives.

If we are able to do this, we can also generate resilience by crafting organizations, communities, and systems in ways that honor the way the real world works: things may fall apart and we can put them back together…likely different, hopefully even better.

Cultivating resilience requires transparency and a willingness to re-think and re-design our approach to how our lives, our workplaces, our cities, our political and economic systems work to support opportunity, well-being and wholeness.

In a year where we have seen a steady flow of disasters–human, natural, political, cultural–we need a wholehearted effort to share practices that can build resilience in people, in places, and in the systems of which we are a part.


Autobiography in Five Chapters
I walk down the street
There is a huge hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I’m lost. Hopeless.
It’s not my fault.
It takes forever to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a huge hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in that same place again.
But it’s not my fault.
Still, it takes me a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a huge hole in the sidewalk.
I see it.
Still I fall in…it’s a habit.
My eyes are wide open.
Already I know where I am.
It’s my fault.
I climb out quickly.
I walk down the same street.
There is a huge hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down a different street.
Portia Nelson


November 2017
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