Preparedness vs. Resilience, Are They the Same Thing?

So there is a new buzz word out there, resilience. Often this word is used interchangeably with preparedness. But are they the same? Let’s first explore the definitions and differences between these two words.

So what is preparedness?

Preparedness is defined as a state of readiness, this as something we do in order to reach our goal - being prepared. So what have you had to prepare for in your life? In my business we tend to think of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, etc. But do we also prepare for other things? How about a wedding, vacation, or even a move to a new city?  As you can see on all of these examples they are contained within the event. So what we have is a pre-event (normal life), the event, and then recovery from the event (return to normal life). So preparedness can be encapsulated into something that is done and then put away.

So what is Resilience?

Resilience can be defined as “The ability to adapt to changing conditions and withstand and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergencies”*. So let’s examine this a bit further, as this definition implies resilience becomes a state of being. By being able to adapt to changing conditions more easily that would lead to a more rapid recovery from these events. Resilience is something we become, it can never be contained or encapsulated. It is something that threads through all parts of our lives.

Preparedness vs. Resilience

As we have explored there is a difference in both the definition and outcome of both of these words; however each word had a place in our lives. There is always something we should prepare for in order to make the event easier. Resilience is how we handle any challenges or obstacles that happen when something goes wrong within the event we planned.

For example: I have planned for my fantastic car trip vacation to Disney World with my family. We have packed and are ready to go. About day 3 into this trip (after the fun begins to wane for the kids); my car breaks down, we are supposed to be meeting Mickey tomorrow and will not make it. Even though we prepared, the unexpected happened. How I handle this challenge and move to a more peaceful transition depends on my resilience. Can I find a way to keep the kids happy until we get there? Will this situation make this fantastic planned vacation into a nightmare? How stressed will this situation make me? And finally, when we get on our way, will I enjoy the rest of this new vacation? Each of these questions, points to my resilience in a very hostile environment. (Have you ever had not postpone meeting Mickey? I would not recommend it!)

Preparedness now becomes a part of resilience. I wouldn’t want to go through life not preparing for events, however I also wouldn’t want to rely just on my resilience to get me through my life.  Both of these words play an active role in our lives but they are not the same, preparedness is something we do and resilience is something we are in any situation. In later articles I will explore more closely the concept of resilience as it applies to our human nature.   

 * Presidential Policy Directive-8