You say potato – I say no, it’s a carrot

I was intrigued the other day when I saw an article on Medium titled ‘8 Behaviors of Resilient People‘.  Resilience is a key skill to have during change, so I am obviously interested in how you build it. I, therefore, opened up the link with a degree of anticipation about what was to come.

Written by organisational psychologist and author, Dr Nicole Lipkin, the article outlined eight things that people who are resilient do, and that people who don’t necessarily have a natural tendency toward resilience, can learn.

Sounds good. It’s great to know that you can do things differently to be more resilient, right? There is just one problem with the list. Not one of them is a behaviour.

A behaviour is something you can walk into a room and see someone doing. They’re observable actions. If you can’t walk into a room and see someone doing it – it’s not a behaviour. If you can’t go and do it – it’s not a behaviour.  If you can’t teach someone it, and observe them doing it – it’s not a behaviour.

Let’s go through Dr Lipkin’s list to see if there are any behaviours:

Behaviour?
Stop cognitive distortions in their tracks No
Reframe setbacks as opportunities for growth No
View setbacks as impermanent No
Manage your strong feelings and impulses No
Focus on events you can control No
Don’t see yourself as a victim No
Commit to all aspects of your life No
Have a positive outlook of the future No

 All of the above appear to be ways of thinking, not behaviours. That doesn’t mean they are not useful, helpful or exactly the things someone who wants to be more resilient can start to change about the way they think.  Dr Lipkin may have done a superb job in researching and summarising the key ways of thinking to be more resilient. The point is they are not behaviours.

The more we can do to be clear on what a behaviour is, and what it isn’t, the more I believe we can be successful in helping people change what they actually do.

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