Let’s Unpack Resilience

George Andreas Fereos
3 min readFeb 12, 2023

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On one of the many podcasts that I listen to, I heard the term resilience being called a “buzz word”. I thought to myself, “why?”. Why has this word entered the category of jargon that has now become fashionable? From my lens, resilience has a lot to do with grit and determination. Grit is not fashionable, it’s not sexy, and it calls upon people to fall in love with the boring stuff. So, I’m not here to take away anyone’s opinion of what they believed a certain word meant, but I am here to learn, and this descriptive casing of resilience intrigued me to think sideways, creatively and challenged me to filter my conscious bias.

Resilience — meanings. Above, I’ve already given a synopsis of my thought for the meaning of resilience, but what does the literature say?

From the Oxford dictionary — “the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties/toughness.”

From A web search, the American Psychological Association says; “Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and change to external and internal demands.”

Ok, so, with both examples, what I am understanding is that resilience is the art of adapting. So, if I’m calling it an art, is there something you must learn, have, adopt, or cultivate to be resilient?

In short, “I don’t know,” but I want to find out. Let me dig deeper.

The etymology — Where did this word come from and what did it mean at its birth? My searches took me to the year 1620, but fascinatingly it started in the 1200s with the Old French and Latin word “Re”, meaning back, back from, back to the original place. It wasn’t until the 1560s where “salientem,” the Latin word for “leaping,” which was a heraldic term and a source of Sanskrit — Sisarsi, Sisrate which meant “to flow, run and hurry” came together with the Greek word Hallesthai “to leap,”. There was no cat to kill, but my curiosity extended to resembling efforts because the translation of “Saliens” goes back to Aristotle’s writings, where a case can be made that I’m looking for a conscious bias so that my curiosity for a philosopher to be behind the meaning is true. It turns out it was. Aristotle’s writings that date back to around 346 BC, translate “saliens” as “the starting point of anything”.

So, the meaning of resilience, from a philosophical lens, means to “reset to leap forward”.

So, is it bad that I start two paragraphs with “so”? Apparently, it gives the reader repetition which could be considered as “boring”, or it can become a “disinterested” read. I digress. So, my meaning or my interpretation of resilience is to put your foot on the ground and bounce forward (figuratively speaking). Have you physically tried that lately? There’s something quite unstable yet rewarding and can become addictive about it, which, I guess, is what resilience feels like.

How to be resilient.

You’ve got hard things going on — Insert them here ________________

Instead of waiting for them to pass you by, go through them and experience those hard things. How? I’ll start you off with three internal tools that you already inherit from birth, that you will sharpen and use to power through.

The Three C’s

Commitment to your purpose in life will help you see it through.

Rise to the Challenge because your purpose matters.

Control what you can control, and how you respond, because that is all you can control.

Anchor to those three C’s and leverage them for that leap forward.

Thank you for your attention, patience, and presence. I’ll leave you with one more resilient thought -

Search out difficult things. Don’t just allow the difficult things to come.

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