Editorial: Resilient and resourceful

Resilience isn't just about toughness. It's about adapting, and finding a way around adversity.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

We're supposed to do resilience well in these islands. We did, after all, disover our Dunkirk spirit and live off one powdered egg, three rashers of bacon and two ounces of lard a week in all those hard years of World War II. And a good dose of resilience has been essential for most individuals and businesses over the past two years as the tempest has blown.

Churchill advised: 'If you are going through hell, keep going.' And there's a Japanese proverb that says: 'We must just Keep Buggering On.' The Spartans knew that resilience was an important attribute, if they took it a bit far by bathing their babies in wine, leaving weaklings out on a hillside and putting surviving seven-year-olds through military training. (Those leather jockstraps must have chafed like hell.)

Spartan toughness has something to do with it - keeping the shields steady as the arrows thunk in - but so has the ability to adapt and to find a way around adversity. The sense of keeping going is important, but so is being smart and imaginative - don't just stand there like a punch-drunk Rocky, soaking up the punishment.

Our special themed edition aims to bring you hints, tales and tips for getting through these tough times. Whether it be Charles Dunstone and how he picked himself up after the TalkTalk launch fiasco, or tailor Austen Pickles, who's had a dismal 18 months but is still standing, up there in Saltaire. And then there's the unloved British off-licence - an institution that seems to be waiting for the final haymaker from Tesco and Sainsbury's.

The answer for the offy is not to be a mediocre bottle shop like the late Threshers but something much cleverer and more imaginative, like Majestic. The resilient are resourceful, and roll with the punches while they adapt. That's why Cambridge came top of a recent survey of places coping best with recession and Hull came bottom.

According to the Centre for Cities' Outlook 2010 report: 'Many of the cities hit hardest are places still suffering from the legacy of industrial restructuring and previous recessions. This is widening the gap between cities. The difference between the highest and lowest 10 cities in terms of their unemployment claimant count has widened by 70% since the start of the recession.' This is worrying and suggests a learned helplessness in the face of adversity. Sadly, the ability of the state to pick up the pieces is not now what it used to be. The Spartans in HM Treasury have a tough decade ahead.

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