Saluting 2016: Mu Sigma, Resilience and the Everyday
Amongst the many things that have been said and felt about Mu Sigma this past year, the one thought that took center-stage for me, and somewhere I know, for many a Mu Sigman, is ‘re-inventing the self’. We engaged with concepts like ‘resilience’ and ‘hardiness’, we spoke in small groups and larger forums alike. We read, we discussed and we shared. The latter being the most cathartic experience that brought each one of us face to face with events in our lives we’d rather let be. For those who don’t know what I am referring to, ask yourself one simple question – was there a time or an event in your life that continues to require tremendous inner strength on your part, to live with?
“Resilience is a subject none of us will ever understand fully … it is one of the great puzzles on human nature, like creativity or the religious instinct,” says Andrea Ovans in her article titled What Resilience Means, and Why It Matters. She goes on to say, “more than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”
Mu Sigma is a person, just like you and me, and the resilience she has shown is stuff to learn from. (I am deliberately referring to Mu Sigma as ‘she’, because Dhiraj nurtures and protects it as a father does his daughter). She has shown the propensity to make meaning of terrible times, asking in the bleakest moments not ‘why me’ but ‘why not me’. Strong values infuse an environment with meaning because they offer ways to interpret and shape events. The past year stands testament to this. It in fact shone light on the people of Mu Sigma, whom the latter has groomed and trained in the art of ‘bricolage’ without even knowing it. Bricolage is the skill to make the most of a situation with what is at hand. The word is tied to resilience at the roots. 2016 brought out the bricoleur in every Mu Sigman who chose to remain with us, i.e. they were able to imagine possibility and held onto it steadfastly. This is what Mu Sigma and Mu Sigmans are made of.
But, resilience is not built in a day. Although it takes no more than one event to discover you have it, you may realize it only in retrospect, long after the event has buried itself somewhere in the deep recesses of your heart and mind. To build resilience, I believe we need to turn our consciousness to the ‘everyday’, to the rhythm and patterns of life as it unfolds in its most ordinary everyday existence. I believe, “everyday” as a concept not only symbolizes the idea of the routine, the mundane and the ordinary but it also contains within itself the disruption in routine, the special in the mundane and the extra in the ordinary. “Everyday” is not only about how we live and what we do, but it also is the break which stops what we do and how we live. This is the order of life. The “everyday” is how life ordains a semblance of order yet being full of ruptures. The “everyday” at Mu Sigma is a practice in resilience, allowing each one of us to know aspects about ourselves we did not know existed.
Mu Sigma continues to quietly teach us one of the most valuable lessons we will only appreciate much later in life.