In a nutshell
Fortitude is a powerful exploration into the mistakes we make when thinking about resilience, and how our current understanding of the concept is shrouded in toxic myths. Resilience has become a buzzword marketed at us to promote a narrative of individualised blame and shame. With every issue being given this same brush, consideration of the wider societal barriers get overlooked. We’re made to believe that with simple grit we can overcome all setbacks.
Bruce Daisley makes a powerful push-back against this thinking. Fortitude provides a refreshing approach to resilience which centres around human connection and the power of collaboration.
Decoding the myths of resilience
Bruce Daisley tackles the resilience narrative through exploring the true impact of adversity that lies behind success stories. As humans we often attempt to learn from those who are successful, and ignore the less fortunate many. Our conclusions about success are often based on very unstable foundations. It is important to view success within its much broader context and consider the multiple factors to which we often cast a blind eye.
Adversity may have links to triumph, but we must not ignore the alarming repercussions it has upon well-being. Investigating the science of trauma reveals the lasting effects adverse events can have on an individual. Trauma can throw an individuals sense of identity out of sync. In response, they seek to forge an identity which they can control. When an individual’s identity is rooted in their achievement, the adverse effects of trauma are often more extreme. Bruce Daisley powerfully contends that trauma and setback are not simple triggers for achievement.
The origins of inner strength
The concept of growth mindset and resilience programmes centre around a shared belief that resilience relies on the individual’s ability to mentally frame challenges – and that this is a skill which can be taught and learned. Bruce Daisley views these concepts collectively as a ‘Resilience Orthodoxy’. Although there is still some value in some of these teachings, Bruce Daisley suggests resilience should not be viewed as a personal trait. Instead, it needs to bring community into the focus. Three pillars that define his approach to resilience are Control, Identity and Community.
Personal control is an integral part of what it is to be human, affecting our self-esteem and controlling our feelings of stress and confidence. On the other hand, a lack of personal control is life-altering, and can result in feeling complete powerlessness over the circumstances and outcome of our lives. Achieving a steady sense of control gives us the reserve capacity to deal with challenges.
Having a strong sense of identity is a powerfully enabling quality which allows us to cope in situations which may seem intimidating or impossible to others. As with personal control, a sense of identity can have implications for physical and psychological health. Our individual identity is inextricably entwined with our social identity.
There is a long-held assumption that in groups we lose our sense of self. This misgiving has led many to believe that standing alone is the best route for optimal outcomes and personal success. Bruce Daisley argues that while groups can be capable of acts of cruelty, they can also aid happiness, identity and fortitude. On the reverse, loneliness has remarkable negative consequences on our psyches; our minds interpret isolation as being rejected by our tribe which can become mentally debilitating.
Having a sense of community, either through unity or shared experience, is extraordinarily influential for how well we can recover from challenges and trauma. Fortitude is a strength built through feeling in close synchrony to those around us.
Three things to take away
Too often we look to heroic figures as role models of success and perseverance but fail to consider the diverse range of issues that shroud this awe. Bruce Daisley tackles this head on, exposing the truth behind the misleading narrative of individual resilience. He guides you on how to best find inner strength, and how this can often be found through external connection – an essential factor for enhancing personal control and establishing a strong sense of self.
When looking to succeed, always remember to come back to the question of what are you striving towards? Bruce Daisley warns not to get so devoted to your mission that you neglect to consider your happiness and well-being.
Bruce Daisley stresses one overarching principle that defines fortitude. That principle is others. Social connection is what enables us to be resilient. Don’t get lost searching inside yourself for the solution: we need others to find our own personal strength.
Who should read this book?
Fortitude is for those who want to be reminded that you cannot, and should not, do everything single-handedly. Seeking group connection and support is not a sign of weakness but rather can be one of the key determinants in establishing inner strength.
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Bruce Daisley, Cornerstone Press, 2022