Strong networks support resilience in times of challenge . . . but make sure these are diverse, there is room for growth and critical thinking is welcomed.Dr Maggie B
It’s a cliche to say we live in difficult and uncertain times and now more than ever we need to be more resilient. As the pandemic continues its trickster path and our feeds are filled with conflict (in mainstream news and as well as posted comments), it’s easy to feel vulnerable and out of control of reality. In this context, it only takes one comment, one pandemic statistic or one weird glance from our loved ones to make the world fall around on us. The ability to bounce back gets harder as we go along and that’s all about resilience.
Resilience is the ability to recover from, or adjust easily to, misfortune or change.Merriam Webster
Last year we became beekeepers and now have litres of honey and thousands of new beings on our property. I find the connections between bees, resilience and the dynamics of human communities and organisations fascinating.
Bees are resilient creatures. Their communities operate as single entities – a hive mind. Within the hive mind, everyone knows their place and what they need to do at any time to make their community survive and thrive. Beehives operate sophisticated temperature control, breeding, food gathering and preservation systems and it also has some of the best communication networks in the natural world. As a result, bees can live in almost any climate and withstand the loss of significant numbers and still survive. They can even lose their leader, split in half, and still keep going. They do better than most fortune 500 companies on this planet!
But if their food sources are compromised through deforestation or chemical use, or they experience their version of pandemics or invasions, entire bee communities will disappear overnight. Why?
Bees are reliant on the larger ecosystem in which they operate, and so ultimately, the hive mind is their strength and their greatest weakness. Individual bees can only grow as much as the hive mind allows. They have no criticality – no ability to communicate or see the bigger picture within which they operate. They’re trapped into existing to serve the hive’s purpose. Hive mind dynamics are such that if the entire hive collapses, every single bee dies as well.
So I see some lessons here. First, building solid networks is excellent – but make sure these are diverse so that ideas can cross-pollinate and you can become more sophisticated in your thinking as a result. Second, have a strong sense of purpose and vision, but make sure that it is flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances. Third, be willing to contribute to a greater whole, but do that interdependently, so you are not entirely dependent on others for your resources (financial and emotional). And finally, don’t act like a drone, enslaved to the hive mind and only existing to perform your duty. (Incidentally, cultivating fierce friendships can help with this – take a look at my post on that topic).
Of course, some people have a more comprehensive array of choices thanks to unevenly distributed power and privilege – but everyone has some form of choice. Every moment is an opportunity for movement – even if very small.
If you are interested in evaluating or strengthening your resilience, sign up for my spiritual mentoring programme. To learn more about bees and bee resilience, take a look at this article by Jay Evens and read Bee Culture Magazine. And if you are keen to know how honey is extracted from combs – take a look at this video on my Youtube channel. Bee resilient! Just don’t act like a drone.