Bulletproof Coffee and the Misunderstanding of 'Resilience' in Life and in Leadership
City of Angels…
I'm recently back from LA, the home of bulletproof coffee and the location of the first bulletproof coffee shop (Santa Monica in case you were wondering!).
If you don't know the bulletproof coffee concept, then it's the brainchild of Dave Asprey and basically it's great quality coffee blended with butter and an extract of the medium chain fats found in coconut oil. This high-fat drink helps your body release energy slowly and keeps you going until lunchtime.
OK, less about the coffee and more about the concept of 'bulletproof'...
Are You 'Bulletproof'?
The word bulletproof reminded me about resilience; not so much the way I define and experience it, but the way that some people think of it—that idea that you have to let all the bad stuff bounce off you. Like wearing the emotional equivalent of a bulletproof vest.
That's so crazy. How is it possible not to be affected by things that happen to us? In fact, there's research that suppressing our emotions is harmful to our physical health.
What resilience, true resilience, looks like to me, is the ability to experience deeply whatever is happening to us, and, at the same time, to know that our experience is transient.
Why We think We Need Resilience
Something I work with my clients on is an understanding of where their experience is coming from and therefore an understanding of what's real and what isn't.
We all live in a thought-created reality, which means that none of us experiences exactly the same thing, nor do we see the world in the same way.
You'll know this to be true if your partner or a work colleague has a serious reaction to something that, to you, looks unimportant. Or you see some people having a serious overreaction to traffic while others see it as an opportunity to sit back and enjoy a podcast or two. Same circumstances, different experience.
And, no matter how bad that experience, it's all transient. It only looks as if it isn't when we continue to focus on something from the past, or we continue to create a false picture about the future.
Even the deepest grief is transient. It returns to us from time to time and it can be supplanted by joy and laughter at other times.
The Nature of Experience...
Understanding this is the essential nature of resilience. All our experiences pass, which means we all have a natural resilience.
I think of it like a PlayStation game (comes from living with teenage boys!); every game comes with a reset button. The boys play all out to win but, if they meet an opponent unexpectedly and lose the battle, they simply reset and start over.
It's the same in life.
Our natural resilience is a reset button; it isn't a layer of bulletproof emotional kevlar.
Toughing it Out…
What's your experience here? Have you tried to 'tough it out'? Maybe tried to convince yourself that you need to 'be strong' when the going gets sticky?
Or think that tenacity somehow equates to bulletproof leadership?
What if you had it wrong? What if there was nothing to do, nothing to find, or to put on over the top of what you were already experiencing. Nothing that would make it bounce off you.
What if you could simply be human and allow yourself to feel whatever emotions were coming up for you, knowing that was exactly what we all experience in life, and, no matter how bad, our experience in this moment will pass, because that’s what experience does: it moves on and we recover.
The system works just like a PlayStation game; we reset.
We might have a few scuff marks and it might take a couple of attempts to re-boot the system but you have the exact same natural resilience as everyone around you because that's how it works.
Putting on emotional kevlar or making ourselves ‘bulletproof’ is like never turning the game on in the firs tplace.
And who would want to go through life like that.
You are resilient because you are human. Truly.
P.S. If you have questions or thoughts about this post or you're curious about understanding your innate resilience, please message me—I'd be happy to help.