Resilience in Action -- at 150 miles per hour!

This post is about resilience and transformation.

Not in a way you might expect, but a very graphic demonstration of what these mean to us.

It's a great example of:

  • looking at things from different perspectives
  • how resilience is such a powerful "force"
  • why transformation can be so hard

Let's start by looking at a very cool video:

What are we doing here? It's just a golf ball in slow motion, isn't it?

Yes and no.

It is a golf ball, it is in slow motion, but that slow motion, of course, lets us "zoom in" and see the ball in a way we have never seen it before.

This is the magic in the brain principle I call Zoom In - Zoom Out. Looking at things in different ways gives us all sorts of different possible connections running through the networks that are our brain.

For instance, when you think of a golf ball, what comes to mind?:

- hard

- round

- dimpled

- attracted to sand, water, and high grass ;-)

Not lot of excitement there.

But what happened when you watched this video?

Who knew a golf ball could be so flat? Or so egg-shaped? Or so darn flexible???

And what is that flexibility about? Stress and resilience.

The stress of hitting a piece of steel at 150 miles per hour and the resilience to "bounce back" (no pun intended) to its round(ish), golf ball form.

There are some interesting ideas here:

Resilience can't happen without a stressor, aka a "perturbation", impacting the network. (The network in this instance being all those elastics scrunched together that make up the golf ball; the network for us on this blog being our brain.) Resilience and stress are two sides of the same coin.

And resilience is all about getting back to where you started (more or less). A hard, round, dimpled ball or  something that feels like You in spite of "stresses" throwing you off.

So here's an intriguing notion I want you to think about...

There is a whole industry out there helping people who seek "transformation". And there is a whole industry helping people "manage stress".

Have you ever considered that these two industries are potentially working against each other? That everytime we successfully "manage stress" we have prevented transformation or that every transformational experience we have is actually the result of not being resilient (enough)?

No...really! Our (brain) systems try to keep things functioning as optimally as possible with what we have available. That's resilience -- making the little adjustments that let things shift without substantially changing the Whole.

Transformation is what happens when we aren't resilient. When we don't "snap back" to our usual "shape" and instead acquire a new Something that makes us different from what we were before.

I'm not saying we don't want to be resilient. Resilience is a good thing for us not to be thrown off by every  "perturbation" life brings to us.

But I am saying that if we want to experience transformative change, we need to be willing to experience the discomfort that comes with enough "shake-up" of the system that it re-organizes into something new, something more adaptive, something stronger, something at a whole new level.

When we're stressed/experiencing perturbations, we tend to "zoom in" and focus on the extreme discomfort we are experiencing. What might happen if we "zoomed out" to see the potential for change and to understand the discomfort as the shift coming before the "aha"?