Mental Resilience and Leadership (Part 4)

[May 03, 2014] Living in New York City affords me the experience and privilege to drive in traffic that would make the average American go mad. I’m fond of telling folks that in NYC, other drivers will honk their car horn, yell and curse, give you the finger … but it’s not personal. Most of us New Yorkers have adapted to this minor abuse – we are mentally resilient to congested city driving experiences.

At a recent conference on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, the topic of mental resilience was raised as a “potential tool” to help reduce this harassment. There was a lively discussion about the positive effects of mental resilience training in the classroom and smart phone resilience application tools.

It is the belief of a few, myself included, that mental resilience cannot be taught academically but must be can only be gained from first hand experience. Resilience does mean having the ability to access tools and certain knowledge methods, but the preponderance is relevant experience.

More importantly, strengthening mental resilience is probably the most important thing we can do to reduce both the frequency and impact of problems like sexual harassment.

Modern workplace e policies and regulations are legitimately providing protection to our workers. At the same time, these policies and regulations are reducing our experiences (minor stressors) that strengthen resilience.

I propose that these classroom-based prevention programs have limited impact but have had the unintended consequence of actually increasing the negative effects of sexual harassment. The harder we push these policies and regulations, the more cases we will see. Some protection by law, of course is necessary in any civil society, but there is danger in its second order effects.

The solution is to introduce mental resilience experiences. This would be hard to do because it is difficult for people to accept being taken out of their comfort zones. Yet mentally resilient people are less sensitive to the daily tribulations of life, are much more social beings, and are happier for it.

Perhaps one method is to have them spend a few days in a New York City traffic jam … just kidding. I would not recommend that to anyone … but it might help.

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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.