Managing Personal Change: How Resilient Are You?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change.”

- Charles Darwin (1809-1882), English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory

Individual Resilience is how humans adapt to change. It’s like a tree in a storm: some trees (like a live oak) bounce back from the force of the wind, looking like nothing has happened. Other trees (like a pine tree) aren’t so flexible, and after constant winds branches break or the tree stays bent. People are like that too: some bend in times of change and snap back while others break, get damaged, or never fully recover.

While there’s a lot of conversation in the “change management” circles about the process of change, you don’t hear enough about how to set people up for success when change occurs, or how to help them be resilient, ready for the winds of change. But there’s a lot of great research out there on how us humans react to change from a variety of fields; let’s explore just one of these ideas on resilience.

Change Management researchers Dr. Linda Hoopes and Mark Kelly looked at over thirty years’ worth of change management data and identified the key variables that make individuals successful in times of change. They looked at why Person A thrived and grew in times of change and why Person B crashed and burned in the same time. They found that the people who thrived and grew had high competence in seven specific areas, and they dubbed these the 7 Aspects of Individual Resilience. In theory the higher we are in these seven areas the better we are at surviving -- and thriving -- in times of change.

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