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The On-Demand Quality We All Need: Resilience+


A black and white photo of an office building.


This post is part of a series from Arianna Huffington, ahead of her appearance at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 (SHRM22) to lead a conversation focused on the importance of workplace mental health and participate in the SHRM22 Executive Network Experience.


Arianna Huffington​There is a Japanese proverb that says, "Fall seven times, stand up eight." We tend to think of resilience as simply the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity, but it's more than that. Resilience is a collection of skills that allow us not just to bounce back, but to bounce forward when we get knocked down. It's the courage to face the adversity head-on. It's the optimism to create the vision for a new path. It's being able to tap into our wisdom in the calm center of the storm to find the solutions. It's the self-compassion to be able to learn from failure and use it as a steppingstone to success. It's about using uncertainty and disruption as catalysts to expand, get better and grow.

The past two years have depleted our stores of resilience. Every time we make it through one adverse event, another one emerges. In addition to all the uncertainty going on in the larger world, all of us are dealing with our own unique challenges—in our families, workplaces and communities. The result has been an acceleration in the epidemic of stress and burnout that was already growing before anybody had heard of COVID-19.

We often think of resilience as an end state: "If I can just make it through this, then …" Yet resilience is not an end state we can reach, a far-off goal to achieve one day; it's a constant process of becoming. Becoming stronger, wiser, more empathetic and faster at getting back on our feet.

Leaders are at the forefront of this charge. Creating a culture of resilience has to start at the top. Too many leaders still buy into the misguided notion that urgent or chaotic times require them to be in constant motion and always on, or that they somehow have to match the frenetic pace of the moment. Because when we become depleted, we become reactive. In fact, the best way to lead a company forward is by also looking inward. It is judgment that we need from leaders in moments of crisis, not just stamina. And only by looking inward can leaders nurture their resilience and tap into innovative and creative ideas that the times demand.

That's why Resilience+ is my word of the year for 2022. It's about building up and replenishing the reserves that fuel us to exercise those skills. Put another way, Resilience+ is training ourselves to be more resilient through practice. It functions as our immune system for our mental well-being.

The idea of Resilience+ came to me from the streaming services with their endless supplies of streaming content. Our stores of resilience should function in the same way, as the on-demand feature we all need in a time defined by constant change and disruption.

We're not superheroes. We're not machines. We don't have an endless supply of energy. Downtime is a feature, not a bug, of the human operating system. We need to refuel and replenish in order to meet whatever challenges the future holds—that's the essence of Resilience+. Science tells us that the way to do that is by prioritizing our well-being through sleep, healthy nutrition, taking time to unplug and recharge, and getting enough movement in our day.

In the past year, we've gone from waiting for a return to normal to realizing that this uncertainty is our life. And Resilience+ is our way to not just get through it, but thrive.

As leaders, every action we take affects our people. Just as we have the power to fuel a culture of burnout, we also have the power to model a culture of Resilience+.


Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive, will speak at SHRM22 in New Orleans on Tuesday, June 14.

SHRM Executive Network members receive complimentary access to SHRM22 and will be invited to a private VIP meet and greet with Huffington and other SHRM22 main stage speakers. Learn more.

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