You Know, Albert, Your Trouble Is That You Can’t Count

Resilience is making a comeback.

It was always a trait, and it used to be a culture. Even 50 years ago, a person was encouraged to (metaphor advisory) bounce back, dust off, get their act together and snap out of it. It evolved out of authoritarian parenting, and resulted in children (and adults) ranking lower in happiness and social competence.

Things changed, and we now have a generation of adults who, as a result of authoritative rather than authoritarian parenting, have great self-esteem and confidence. But, maybe, a little less resilience.

Building resilience is important. Woody Allen displays philosophical resilience when he says: “What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet”

But the hardest resilience to attain is that which responds to an attack on your supposed strengths. On your good points. On your work credentials, your reputation, your persona. There is a story, which I heard as a young man, repeated often since, about Albert Einstein. It was published again in The Independent in April this year. Einstein was a passable violinist and loved playing. He used to play with a great Austrian violinist called Fritz Kreisler. During one session playing in a quartet, Einstein just couldn’t get the timing right, and Kreisler said: “You know, Albert, your trouble is that you can’t count“.

Einstein survived the criticism that drove to the very heart of his intellect. Resilience.




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