In a workshop on resilience, Dr. Jasmine Zapata gave each of the participants a handful of rubber bands and asked us to conduct a “scientific experiment” to list 7 observations about the elastic tools. In addition to the obvious such as they stretch and return or were different sizes and colors, the group generated quite a list, including:

  • If you stretch it over and over, it gets easier to stretch
  • It is malleable to any shape that you want
  • When you double or triple them, they become harder to stretch
  • They hold things together, yet can “fly” – they hold/store energy
  • They make a distinctive noise
  • They have not changed much in decades
  • They are separate but can easily be connected

After this experiment, we related these characteristics to resilience in humans – and many of the characteristics hold true. People have the ability to stretch and become stressed, yet are able to return to their original shape only to be stretched again. If you stretch something too far it may break, but can often be tied back together to continue on. People – like rubber bands – handle their flexibility differently – some are weaker and some are stronger but all have the ability to stretch.

Two takeaways from the workshop: 1) give yourself credit for the resilience that is part of you, just as it is inherent in the rubber bands and 2) whether using rubber bands specifically or another set of items, the “scientific experiment” is a useful teaching technique that causes participants to look at something ordinary in a whole new light.

The next time you’re facing a stressful situation, act like a rubber band where the tension is just temporary before you return to your original shape.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: