Bounce-back-ability: building strength and resilience

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In the wake of disruption caused by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, ABE has been focusing on bounce-back-ability.  This is the term we've adopted as we look at ways to support our stakeholders - from individuals, to centres, to corporate clients, to communities - so they can bounce back stronger and more resilient.  In the following blog, ABE's Asia Director, Suren Verma, talks about what this means to him:

What is bounce-back-ability?

Bounce-back-ability is not just about recovery, it’s about the capacity to fill the gap between what we are and what we are capable of. The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity, or a beacon, to see this gap more clearly but also reveals the importance of this specific ability to our lives in general. It’s not just about bouncing back from this particular crisis, it’s the ability to bounce back from anything. Now, we have a specific time and reason to develop this critical life skill.

So how do you define these skills?

First of all, it’s about having a clear understanding of your personal goals and mission. It’s about having the tools and techniques to stay connected and committed to your goals. Secondly, bouncing-back requires that you remember the promises you have made to yourself or your family, or if you are running a business, the promises you made to your clients and customers. In order to bounce back you have to have a destination in mind. That means not bouncing back so much as bouncing forward to where you really want to be.

Right now, it’s the skill to concentrate your energy, activities and planning during the lock down period, adapt to the reality of the new situation without compromising health and growth, and developing daily exercises and mechanisms that enhance your potential.

Tell us about your own recent experience of bouncing back?

Here in Myanmar, when our schools and colleges were preparing for a crisis, the support offered by ABE helped to bring education providers back to a normal functioning condition and some to an even better status. ABE emerged through the crisis with a distinctive campaign “No One Left Behind” which was about keeping promises to students, focusing on a clear goal, remembering our mission. Successful global implementation of this campaign revealed some good insights about bounce-back-ability.

What can we learn from the recent COVID-19 outbreak about coping with stress?

Children have more ability than adults to bounce back as they are usually more adaptable to change. Another way to observe behaviours during the pandemic was how differently people responded to the application of stress. Through the laws of expansion and contraction, when an object is subjected to stresses, it resists or gets deformed depending on the nature of the object itself. Even steel behaves like an elastic object when extreme force is applied.

The pressure applied during the lockdown and restrictions during the pandemic re-shaped businesses and even people’s thinking about society. We have to embrace these new shapes, we have to adapt, not try to resist or fight against such an unstoppable physical force. Depending on how businesses absorbed stress and accommodated pressure reveals the different level of consequences. Some businesses went into complete shutdown. Some were able to rise up and do well.

ABE from Africa, the Caribbean and Myanmar has brought the significant results that is manifesting those abilities of bounce back. These include the expansion of business in the Caribbean, high recognition and acknowledgement for the delivered services in Africa, new corporate clients and centres in Myanmar and most recently, a new ABE centre in Cambodia.

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