Our Human Resilience

Never before has nature asked us to be as resilient to this magnitude in our lifetime. Never have we pre-empted a collective challenge of a pandemic which would bring the world into a dead halt affecting every aspect of our lives.   



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Phumza Dyani
Photo by: Zhou Hong

Phumza Dyani is a Founder of the Pan African Network for Investment and Development, a network of professionals and entrepreneurs within the continent and the diaspora with an objective of stimulating trade linkages across the, developing SMMEs, youth and women.

It is important to know that we have invaluable resources built over time and can leverage these to help us overcome and pivot after this phase.   

Humanity is by nature resilient. It moves from the notion of having been the fastest sperm to fertilise the egg to triumphing over the many challenges one graduates from in the journey of life.

Leadership Capacity Tested

For leaders, the unprecedented challenges are magnified, whilst they require remaining focused on moving forward amid protracted, challenging, and destabilizing uncertainty. With this, is also a requirement to help support employees navigating complex emotions of grief, stress, and loneliness that most have not been accustomed to in the workplace—at least not at the scale we are seeing now.

It has become vital to check on employees from time to time whilst we manage the home front, especially for female leaders. This time calls out to our feminine aspects of leadership, where we are called to be more nurturing and caring for the greater good. Women have an immense capacity to love and care in even the most dire of situations—and the world is desperately in need of this.

Focus on the Good

When I think of a symbol that portrays resilience, I think of a lotus plant, a plant that grows from surroundings of water by reaching out and gravitating towards the light. It portrays the feminine features of being fragile, yet extremely strong to overcome its natural surroundings. We all have the ability to dig deeper and not be drowned by the surrounding circumstances. We have the ability and the capacity to grow through focusing on the light.

This is one of the pertinent attributes of resilience, focusing on what is good about the circumstances. Also choosing the aspects of focus; should I focus on the water and thereby drown myself, or focus on the sunshine and be built by the positive outlook? This is one of the differentiating characteristics known to resilient people, to intentionally tune into the good.

When we look at Covid-19, it has created an environment where we are able to be home, and to be able to create a bond that no other time will ever afford us. We have a new sense of meaning to life and view principal relationships in a way that we never have before. We are better equipt to manage global engagements without trivial challenges of traffic and travel logistics. Our children will forever remember this time as having been truly significant in their entire lives, as well as how close the families have come in support of each other. There are many other good things that one can look at.

Life Happens

Resilience is by nature an ability to overcome negative circumstances and bounce back faster. Change and crisis are part of life and the sooner we accept this reality, the better we are able to cope when challenges surface. Resilient people know that life happens and they know that crises are not permanent. They know that seasons do change and are better able to deal with the circumstances knowing they pass. Resilience can be character based and built through experiences one has overcome through their lifetime. It also can be intentionally learned as one navigates through life. 

The Importance of Relationships 

Relationships are particularly important in developing resilience as the key pillars of support needed to get through the tough times. This is especially true in relationships with people who have gone through similar experiences. At this time, we have managed to forge even stronger relationships, even if remotely. The essence of the conversations have been much deeper, as we have had to tap into the essence of humanness to authentically support each other. How are you? is no longer superficial as we are genuinely concerned about the physical and mental state of each other through the myriad of challenges thrown at one daily.

Beliefs Are Instrumental

Our beliefs are the backbone on which we are anchored and the lens through which we view challenges. They have become that much more integral as we try to make sense of what we are going through as a human race. Our beliefs have an ability to ground us and provide an incredible anchor to which we can move from and carry on despite the challenges. They also help us in presenting available choices to move forward from. For most of us, we have every intention of overcoming and hold on to our faith that this too shall pass.

Choosing Empowering Thoughts

Monitoring and managing thoughts as they emerge is important to establish whether, at any given point, it is thoughts that are helping or hampering one’s healing. Emotions will come which can dominate one’s thought, but one has control over how they can deal with the emotions. There are dimensions of emotions—whilst it is important to allow them to surface—it is also important be very aware that allowing them to simmer for too long can make one to delve into dimensions that are challenging to come out of.

Using Circumstances to Pivot

There is a choice that is available to all of us, and that is to use the circumstances one went through to learn from and to one’s advantage. One can emerge out of this period and use the strategies and techniques applied to survival to pivot. One can use the pieces of information from the process of overcoming adversity to teach and build solutions that the world is waiting for. One can use them as stepping stones to advance in life and use the pain for future gain. What is important is to step back, allow some reflection time, and take the lessons.

I wish you all the best in whichever circumstances you may find yourself. What I know for sure is that the world has given birth to the most resilient nations who will change the world. •