Human Sustainability - It Matters More than Resilience


How does a leader maintain oneself over years of challenge and difficulty?

Not resilience!

Resilience is admirable, but is more about bouncing back from failure. Deeper study of successful people reveals that many don’t see “failure” at all! While fully conscious of the degree of difficulty facing them, they interpret it differently. They thrive despite stress, or even because of stress.

That’s great for single events, but another key differentiator between top leaders and everyone else is that they think in terms of years or more. How does one maintain energy and excitement over that length of time despite adversity, obstacles, pressure, and even distractions?

Research shows that people only have so much energy to give and only so much self-control. Forcing oneself day after day makes a multi-year, strategic effort impossible.

However, one can manage one’s energy, focus, and attitude to make the best use of the energy and self-control you have. Call it human sustainability: At least, maintaining persistence around a long-term objective despite obstacles and distractions; at best being excited rather than daunted over years.

Does it pay off? Ask Bill Gates, who released the popular Windows 3.1 eight years after Apple first released the first consumer WYSIWYG system, but took over the world:

“Try one, two, three times and if possible try the fourth, fifth, and as many times as necessary. Just do not give up on the first attempts; persistence is a friend of conquest. If you want to get where most do not go, do what most do not.”

We see three key components to Human Sustainability for leaders, which we’ll tackle in three more articles:

1.              Managing motivation [turn on the emotion]

2.              Positive orientation [attributional style, perception]

3.              Strategic prioritization [eye on the right prize, 1/100]

Marietta Bryant