Discouraging Resilience

By | December 14, 2015

[December 14, 2015]  A recurrent theme here in theLeaderMaker.com blog is that those people with resilient personalities are more likely to be successful and productive members of society.  There are additional benefits, like better mental and physical health, and that’s why leaders are look for ways to encourage resilience in others.  However, there has been pushback on the issue, primarily from academicians who are discouraging resilience.1

Resilience refers to grit and perseverance, the ability to thrive in the face of adversity and to succeed despite barriers.  The promotion of resilience would seem to be a desirable goal, especially in the formative years.2  Overall, there’s been a conscious effort to encourage resilience in primary education settings but as students approach adulthood the endeavor has never really taken off.

In post-secondary education there is no effort to promote resilience yet, in the opinion of many, there is actually a movement among university administrators and faculty to actively discourage it.  If college students don’t actively push themselves to increase their own resilience, no one will help and they will do so in an atmosphere where it’s rejected as an asset.

Universities have reacted to student complaints about the “lack of diversity”, “racism, sexism, and homophobia,” and the “unsafe environment” at universities and their “historic past” where founding members did not adhere to modern value systems.  Administrators have been quick to acquiesce in many ways that discourage resilience in students.

Instead of telling them it’s not their concern (students are only passing through the college system), university leaders create safe spaces where no one is challenged, are willing to make name changes to university buildings and sports teams, create new academic majors that have no value, create grievance committees, and discourage freedom of speech.  Of course, there are many other ways they are meeting the demands of students (see an example at the University of Missouri, link here).

There appears to be no end to the effort some universities will go to ensure no student is exposed to anything that might frighten, challenge, or insult the student.  The active discouragement of resilience is done to the detriment of those very students.  Exposure to new and different ideas, challenges, and to situations that affront us and make us angry are actually beneficial.  Universities are no longer willing to treat their young students as adults.

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  1. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/12/when-grit-isnt-enough/418269/
  2. https://www.theleadermaker.com/encouraging-resilience/


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.