Against Resilience

You’ve had a rotten day, a rotten week. Something in your personal life isn’t going your way, or something at work is eating at you.

What do you do with those feelings?

You bury them.

You ignore them.

You push them down, and you get work done.

After all, you are Resilient.

Wait, wait, wait …. really? Is that what resilience has become?

Yes. Resilience has taken on a life of its own, replete with varying interpretations and definitions. What used to be an act of perseverance has come to mean an act of denial.

Yikes! When we use the term “resilience” in our workplace — no matter how pure a definition we intend — what are people hearing? I’ve used this word many, many times before in everything from 1:1 conversations to quarterly reviews. The emphasis on resilience runs deep in management best practices. You should want to build a resilient team. You should want to be a resilient teammate. 

I say, forget resilience.

Resilience should never be a proxy for toughness.

Resilience should never be conflated with strength.

You are not required to be tough in the workplace. You are required to be honest, to be yourself.

Strength is not exclusive to resilience. Strength wears a hundred different outfits, including the one most opposite of resilience: vulnerability. It takes just as much strength to be vulnerable.

What should resilience be?

The workplace I want to build is one where people feel comfortable being themselves and acknowledging the days when they don’t feel great. It’s harmful to be anything else. It’s inauthentic to do it any other way.

The key is in building a workplace where such vulnerability is allowed. Yes, there will always be deadlines to meet, commitments to keep, and goals to hit. But that’s why you’re on a team. You pick each other up.

Individual resilience doesn’t allow any room for letdowns. Team-wide resilience gets stuff done and gives you room to breathe.

Be the first to get new posts and articles

I lead the marketing team at Buffer, a SaaS tool with a blog of over 1.2M monthly visits. Let me show you how we got there and how we plan to grow.

Sign up to receive updates