Super-resilience: what, why, how?

Alan Heeks writes:
Let me admit up front that I don’t think super-resilience is a great name, but it’s the best I’ve found so far for a very important idea. Your suggestions are welcome!

super resilience.jpg

What I see currently, in people around me and more widely, is levels of uncertainty which are barely sustainable, but likely to grow. This is happening in both work and personal life for many people.

If you believe there’s a gift in most problems, where is the upside here? The best answer I can find is that we all have an opportunity, and a crucial need, to raise our resilience skills massively and rapidly, if we want to thrive in the years ahead.


Whilst I feel clear about the need for super-resilience, I’m not clear what it is in practice, so I’m embarking on a process of investigation, and welcome your suggestions. The major dimensions of super-resilience surely need to include:
•    Individual, community, work team
•    Physical/logistical, emotional, spiritual

Resilience is an over-used and misused word, sometimes used to mean putting up with yet more pressure, service cuts, etc. I see super-resilience as transformative responses, not super-endurance.

Given my limited resources, I want to focus on super-resilience for UK individuals and communities (up to city level), including work groups, especially those delivering key public services, and small business/social enterprises who can contribute to raising resilience, partly through innovation.

My exploration will take several routes. One is workshops like Dare to Imagine. Another will be through the Nourishing the Front Line events for key service providers, offered by me and colleagues in Wisdom Tree.

The third main channel is through a project I set up last year, Scanning our Future. For an overview, click here. I’ll be posting updates on this project in the Natural Happiness Newsletter, but if you’d like to be actively involved, please contact me.
Some of the questions about super-resilience which we aim to explore in the Scanning our Future project include:

  • Best practice: Where are the best, practical examples of super-resilience? They may be in exceptionally stressed societies, such as Palestine, Afghanistan, nomads or refugee camps.
  • Gathering: What are the best ways to gather and share the best practices we find? Possibilities might include a Wiki website, video material, blogs, and interactive workshops.
  • Innovation: Are there resilience needs which call for innovation to meet them? This could mean new social processes and structures, new individual skills, new services or technologies. If so, how can we encourage such innovations to happen?
  • Dialogue: Where are there leading-edge networks with whom we can work to develop super-resilience in practice, and to learn how it could be disseminated.
  • Dissemination: Currently it’s clear that mainstream UK struggles with the present, and doesn’t want to know about the future. Exploring how to disseminate our outputs may have at least two channels:

i.    Early adopters: such as Transition Network, Network of Wellbeing.
ii.    Grain stores: when mainstream individuals and communities decide they need more resilience knowhow, where would they turn? Can we place resources in these channels?