Collective Resilience

“Are you still in Belgium?” It’s the question I received the most during my stay, which was initially planned for 3 weeks but took me almost 3 months. It was meant to be, and next week, I’m happy to be back in my home country after experiencing collective resilience.

It was great to be in Belgium for the summer. Heartwarming to see my family and many old and new buddies. “It’s been too long. Let’s go for a walk, have some delicious food and enjoy the best beers in the world! Tell me all about your journey in the Middle East. How are you doing? How’s the family? Help me understand why you took such a bold decision to leave this beautiful region behind. Something we can learn from them and they from us?”

New friends back home in Dubai: “Lucky you! Reconnecting with your family and friends, escaping the heat with the kids while your wife needs to focus on a new challenge in the Middle East. We saw the pictures of a massive Hercules Trophy season and wish you all the best in resetting your company for your jubilee year in 2024; Mabrouk! I hope the preparations for Hercules Trophy Dubai are going well for you, Inshallah. But tell me, when are you back to play padel????”

The people above are my kind of people. My tribe.

A fringe minority

It’s also promising to see that the number of “judgers” and “takers” is becoming a fringe minority in my tribe(still about 5% according to my calculations): “Not happy in Dubai? Oh, I thought the Trophy was dead. Looking for a real job? Getting a divorce? What about women’s rights, modern slavery and democracy in the Middle East? Education and healthcare are the worst, I guess? What’s their position on the war and on Trump? What happens when the oil is gone?” Bizarrely enough, usually followed by, “You have a large network, could you help me with….” 🤔 Euhm, really?

Spending a lot of time on my own

I promised myself I wanted to escape survival mode after this summer.

In hindsight, survival mode wasn’t just triggered by my BHAG nearly going to waste; it was everything at the same time turning my life upside down in the past 3 years. Moving to a new society, the kids evolving into independent young adults in a new education system, getting disconnected from my wife, family, and friends, selling the family home, restarting from scratch in the UAE in the middle of covid, rebooting my body and mind… It was a Herculean challenge to swallow everything at the same time.

The good news: I survived, and I’m convinced it’s exactly what I needed to grow again. I wish you could experience such a transformation too.

I was often very close to giving up, but I left those negative feelings at the gates of a beautiful Hercules Trophy season in Belgium. The collective love from my tribe showed me that many people are in silent transformation, not following the herd, becoming a better version of themselves, and connecting with each other. It confirmed that most leaders understand that investing in employee engagement is the way to go.

That’s the people I like to surround myself with.

Just grow thyself, right?

As you know, I reflect a lot on how to conquer obstacles that block you from becoming the best version of yourself. Those obstacles often initiate your survival mode and stress. Stress can trigger negative feelings that can make you sick if your body and mind become addicted to those feelings. There are better ways to go.

𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗲𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗼𝗿 𝗶𝗳 𝘄𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗸 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘄𝗲 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹, 𝘄𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲.

I often clashed with the school of “let it go, smile, think positive and just grow thyself”. I experience those statements almost as an insult. Sports, new friends, food, sleep, a new exciting context, meditation, cold showers, walking, stretching, reading, journaling, growing the business, and not taking things personally. You name it; I’m doing it. But this time, it wasn’t enough.

Growing thyself into the best version of yourself, into individual brilliance, is an Olympic minimum and your moral duty.

We will jump higher through collective resilience

I firmly believe in the power of ecosystems, connections, resonance, collectivity, and teams. With the right people doing the right things right at the right time, sharing a BHAG they can’t conquer on their own, focusing on each others’ strengths. Where everybody is accountable to become the best version of themselves, and everybody cheers each other to victory, especially when things get rough.

Covid proved once again that the individual is lost without meaningful connections. Anger, anxiety, loneliness, guilt, shame and all the negative emotions kicked in for many people, including myself.

We are as strong as the sum of the strength of our connections. I have clear intentions and visualise open conversations with them daily. We live in a dynamic metaverse of energy. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. People who don’t judge and will patiently cheer you to victory. They don’t push you deeper by pointing out your weaknesses from their moral high grounds. They hold you accountable for becoming the best version of yourself.

Looking back, that was my biggest challenge, but also where the answer lays: for a while, I felt disconnected from my tribe. I felt that a lot of people were doing things that were against my values and beliefs. They crossed the line for me. I was shocked, I felt betrayed, and when you believe that connections are the answer, it’s a big thing to swallow. If you allow people to cross the line, they will cross it again next time. You have to speak up and stand your ground. It sounds dramatic when I reread it, but that’s how I felt and how I reacted.

Social Capital

I like the whitepaper of on that matter. My dear new friend Olaf showed me the way. Many of the current engagement and well-being issues are related to Social Capital. But do read the whitepaper where they elaborate on Linking, Bonding and Bridging Social Capital.

Organisations with high social capital are more resilient, and future leaders should be brokers of trust. They should “manage” the trust connections. Employees (or citizens or members from a tribe, for that matter) who experience a high bonding social capital will experience increased well-being and engagement. And all this will lead to innovation, growth and good things.

Collective resilience is the way forward out of this global leadership crisis

It took me a mighty long time to regain my faith in humanity. I’m at peace, as it all had to happen for me to be where I am now. I feel free and ready for an exciting future with new wisdom in my backpack. I call it Life 3.0. Ready to learn from the future again.

So what is the future? I couldn’t say it any better than the conclusion of the whitepaper(although it contains some typos ;-)).

Social Capital and Collective Resilience are the way out, and I’m connecting with more and more people who believe the same. New leaders will rise and become brokers of trust. If not, we are doomed, but I’m optimistic by the signals I’m receiving.

“A human being experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” (Einstein)

Why are you sharing this?

People sometimes ask me why I share my journey so vulnerably. Because that is what my heart tells me to do. It’s an experiment, a form of open journalling to help me reflect on my own change process from a distance and maybe inspire other people to join my tribe. It’s a way to leave a diary for my next of kin.

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