Whether it’s layoffs, restructuring, or a billionaire deciding to acquire your company on a whim, workers today are facing significant change amidst a rocky economy. And each of us handles change at work in different ways. Some of us are like first responders: We love to pull up at the scene of the crime, investigate the issues, pull in the right folks, solve problems, and update the group about progress in real time. Others feel more at home talking to team members one-on-one after a tough leadership review, helping each person process the frustration and disappointment that can come after a lot of work leads to a “no.”
Resilience isn’t really composed of a single trait or quality. For the last few years, I’ve been writing and coaching in the art and science of resilience. In that time, I’ve developed a framework for resilience that centers around the four core skills we all use to move through change.
- Responding in the face of change: working up the courage to take decisive action and mitigate harm
- Restoring in the wake of change: mending what’s been lost to find find balance, community, and love
- Rebuilding for what comes after change: taking steps in a new direction while fostering joy, clarity, and hope
- Reflecting on what change means: considering our values and our journey so we can learn and grow
Each of us leans toward one of these four skills when we’re faced with a challenge—whether it’s losing resources for a project, changing managers, or butting heads with a coworker. And while these skills protect us, they can also lead to problems when overused, so understanding when to dial it back is important as well.
What type of resilient are you? Take this quiz to find out.
I recently developed an assessment to help people discover their “resilience archetype”—based on the resilience skill they tend to lean on most—and collected responses from a national survey of American adults. By taking the 14-question, five-minute survey, you can discover your own archetype.
The 4 resilience archetypes
Now that you’ve gotten your results, you can learn more about each archetype—from how folks tend to operate in the face of change to what fictional characters fit the bill.
Resilience archetype #1: Warrior (respond)
You thrive at the front lines. You find yourself engaged and excited about fixing problems as soon as they come up. You ask the important questions, make tough calls, and can direct people and resources effectively in a crisis. If there’s trouble or a fight ahead, people look to you for leadership.
Your motto: “These problems won’t fix themselves.”
In their own words:
- “I can’t just sit and continue to worry about a problem. I want it handled right away so I can move past it. Sometimes it just has to be done. And I find usually the situation is not as bad as my mind was making it out to be. So it was worth walking into it.” —Jim, 51
- “I am always really eager to deal with issues right away. I want to solve things as quickly as possible. I am willing to put myself out there to do things even if I am uncomfortable.” —Val, 38
Fictional characters that map to the warrior archetype: Ellen Ripley (Alien), Mark Watney (The Martian), Bobbie Draper (The Expanse), Rick Grimes (The Walking Dead)
Resilience archetype #2: Healer (restore)
You’re the one people turn to when they are scared, lost, and hurting. You have a keen sense of the emotional experiences of people around you as well as your own. You know how to bring people together and request help from allies and friendly strangers. You aren’t afraid to get vulnerable and you believe that everyone deserves support.
Motto: “What matters is that we take care of each other.”
In their own words:
- “I always try to think about people and how to help them. If it involves my family, I will do whatever it takes. It is easy for me to identify the feelings that I am having. If people ask about certain past things, I have no problem talking about it.” —Jess, 36
- “I have a very strong support system. I can always find help. Nothing good comes from being mean toward others, I don’t want to pass on the hurt if I’m hurting. I try to look at everything through someone else’s eyes.” —Jason, 42
Fictional characters that map to the healer archetype: Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings), Catelyn Stark (Game of Thrones), Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender), Terry Jeffords (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Resilience archetype #3: Pioneer (rebuild)
When things go wrong, you always have a plan B to turn to. Even when your team is far behind, you have the optimism and the vision to see a path forward and a way to win. You lay down new roots, establish patterns and structure, and start organizing people and activities to bring out tangible progress in service of a new goal or direction.
Motto: “If we can dream it, we can build it.”
In their own words:
- “I never dwell on the past and move on to the next goal. I like to always know where I stand and where I am going in life. I love celebrating a victory no matter how big or small. It is important to be optimistic and always look forward to the challenges life gives you.” —Janis, 28
- “There was some underlying reason why that plan didn’t work so I just move on and find the next best option. I always focus on the big picture but am training myself to live for today and enjoy every good thing that happens. We recently made a big move and breaking it down into small pieces made it seem more attainable.” —MJ, 59
Fictional characters that map to the pioneer archetype: Odysseus (The Odyssey), Leia Organa (Star Wars), Morpheus (The Matrix), Chrisjen Avasarala (The Expanse)
Resilience archetype #4: Scholar (reflect)
You believe that important lessons lay everywhere. You notice patterns in your own behavior and in the world around you—and you help others understand why they matter. You know that it’s not just what we do that matters, but why we do it. You seek to study and learn from the past, so you can prepare for the future. People turn to you to help them make sense of their world and to explain where we’re going and why.
Motto: “We either win or we learn.”
In their own words:
- “I know how to separate work from ideas that are bigger than myself. I value past mistakes and really take the time to learn from the past. I make sure to reflect on past challenges and learn from them. I think one of the hardest things is possibly dealing with bad feelings from a bad experience. I am always thinking about how other people feel and putting myself in others shoes.” —Lixy, 32
- “I see the importance of my work and feel connected to values that motivate me and can feel bigger than myself. I do my best to learn from my experiences and think about the past. I think I do have a large amount of resilience and can overcome challenges and obstacles.” —Dylan, 29
Fictional characters that map to the Scholar archetype: Heromine Granger (Harry Potter), The Oracle (The Matrix), Remy (Ratatouille), Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
How to use your resilience, based on your quiz results
As you might expect, there’s no such thing as the “best” resilience archetype. Instead, what matters is when and how you put your strengths to work when facing change. Here are some suggestions to help you out:
When you’re facing and recovering from change
- Warrior: Your aggressive take-it-on approach makes you a real asset in a crisis. Just make sure your focus is on solving the real problem rather than being “the hero” or else you risk burning out.
- Healer: Change often leads to losses in resources, relationships, and morale. Your tendency to help people vent, grieve, and feel supported is important here. Be careful not to become a martyr for the cause though—take care of yourself as well.
- Pioneer: Your optimism and hope can remind people they’ll get through this crisis. But be patient when trying to help people “move on”—some folks will need longer than others to find closure with the past.
- Scholar: Share your knowledge of what’s worked in the past to help resolve issues, but be careful not to chide someone for mistakes that seem obvious to you but aren’t to them. Leverage your curiosity to observe and remember how the current crisis gets addressed.
When you’re moving forward after change
- Warrior: As things shift toward the future, don’t get obsessed with “fighting the last war” or prolonging battles with perceived enemies. Focus your problem-solving skills on removing blockers to the new plan so you and your team can make progress.
- Healer: This is a great time for you to reach out to old friends and new allies to seek the resources you and your people need. Remind your team that now that they’re on better footing, they can lend their strength to support others.
- Pioneer: Summon your vision and structure to help rally people toward the future. Focus on making incremental progress in the early days but keep the big picture in everyone’s mind. Be careful that in your desire to move forward you don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
- Scholar: Help people make sense of what’s happened and what’s to come by explaining lessons from the journey and connecting people back to their core values. Give others words they can use to explain their journey.