Resilience Makes Other People Feel Better


After reading this article by Melissa Chadburn, I thought hard about my own resilience.  I’ve put myself through hell over the last 5 years.  But I find it weird when friends and (especially) relatives call me “resilient.”

As opposed to what?  Suicidal?  That’s the bar?

But it makes other people feel better.  Like the cigarette-smoking, coffee-drinking people in the article, resilience does nothing for me.

In nonprofits, especially arts organizations, resilience is incorrectly measured by survival, not by impact.  Longtime organizational survival is not proof of quantifiable impact.  It’s like seeing the biggest pumpkin or smallest sneaker.  If the pie is lousy and the shoe doesn’t fit, the rest of it doesn’t matter.

I once went to a restaurant advertised as the “oldest Chinese restaurant” in town. The food was horrible.

Resilience is not the goal; impact is.


2 responses

  1. […] as Alan Harrison argues, resilience for an arts organization is not the goal: impact is. Many companies of great impact (such as Alameda Theatre, which developed more than 25 […]


  2. I feel that resilience is often confused with sustain-ability. To sustain we often need resilience but that is only one of the characteristics of longevity as a charity or non-profit organisation. Creativity, experience, enthusiasm and patience are just some of the qualities needed. (don’t get me started on “sustainability”)
    Resilience has now been downgraded to a “weasel word” used by some to hide an agenda. When asked to look at the “resilience” of a certain community this is almost always about seeing how much funding and resources can be taken away from that community before it falls over or collapses. It is almost always used in connection with cuts in all kinds of support ans services.
    The nobler connotations of the word are employed to divert and distract attention from someone carrying out a reductionist ideology.
    Beware of the word resilience and remember “No good deed ever goes unpunished”


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