Resilience is a Choice

by Paula Marcondes,
Founder and Principal Consultant at ACT Human & Business Development Pte Ltd

An article by STADA member



“To me, my whole life is connecting the dots. It’s connecting mind, body and spirit; fashion, philanthropy and commerce; cotton, cashmere and candles, family.”

Donna Karan

Award Winning Entrepreneur and Fashion Designer



“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”

Dean Becker

Connecting the Dots


Why are we here? What is the purpose of life?


Simple: to learn, grow and love.


We are, however, pulled in many directions by the fragmented nature of our being.


The heart may be inclined to love, but the mind may be too busy to notice. The spirit may be yarning to learn, but the body may not be prepared to dive into action.


The more fragmented we are, the less resilient we are, and the less we are able to learn, grow and love.


The dictionary definition of ‘resilience’ says it has its roots in the Latin word ‘resilire’, which means to jump back or recoil. Resilience can be defined as our ability to return to the original form, or position after being bent, compressed or stretched.


In reality, resilience is much more than just being able to bounce back. It is in essence about not just surviving, but thriving in the face of adversity, chaos, and especially the kind of incremental change we are faced with on a daily basis. It is ultimately about not seeing challenges as obstacles to be overcome, but as lessons and being able to use them as fuel for development, growth and positive change.


Our Complete Existence


The word ‘resilience’ comes from the Latin word ‘resilire’, which means ‘to bounce back after being compressed’. In most cases, however, things tend not to look as good as they did before being compressed.


The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said “what does not kill me, makes me stronger”. Is this true?


Reality can be different in that what does not kill us can make us weaker, depressed, confused, traumatized, lost, resentful, bitter and negative.


How do we – humanity – tend to approach our relationship to nature and to people who have different beliefs and core values? How do we tend to react to threats, change, chaos and adversity?


In the world today, and in the business world in specific, sustainability, wellness and learning have become the privilege of a lucky few, when they are our birthright as human beings and our destiny as organizations and countries – if only we take responsibility for making it so.


Nietzsche’s quote can be true for each and everyone of us if we take the necessary steps to strengthen ourselves at the different levels our being – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.


It can also be true for organizations and governments if they take the necessary steps to strengthen their capabilities at 4 basic levels – structurally, cognitively, emotionally and strategically.


Resilience is not just as the ability to survive adversity or bounce back, but as a state of being that can be consciously developed, in which one is able not only to survive, but also to thrive in the face of change, adversity and chaos. It is the product of a mindset of wellness, sustainability and learning, generated at physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels and reflected through specific behaviors. 


A New Definition of Companies And Success


Companies, consciously or not, do everything they do to become more resilient. They want to be successful and maintain a position of leadership not just for a while, but also in the medium to long term.


“Company” in this context ‘is more than property, people, products and capital’. It ‘is a community that is interdependent with other communities. It takes on the characteristics of those it engages with and, in turn, influences them. So in taking our corporations forward, we need to think of advancing not a company but a community. This means a very different agenda for companies going forward.’


“Success” in this context is about creating a high-performance, values-driven organization that delivers real and sustainable competitive advantage that benefits all of its stakeholders - employees as well as customers and shareholders.


In my organization, we developed The ACT Resilience Development Model™ that provide people in business a carefully designed process to reflect on the four levels of the organization – structural, cognitive, emotional and strategic – and what happens at these four levels that support or take away from the company’s potentialities.

  • Business leaders gain perspective on organization-wide or department/team-specific resilience gaps and their strongest and weakest resiliencies for a more strategic and holistic approach to organizational design.

  • Team leaders optimize team performance by ensuring that all of the 4 key resiliency areas covered within their teams.

  • Team members gain an awareness of their strengths and weaknesses in one of these resiliency areas, or a combination of areas. They see how they can contribute their strengths in areas of weaknesses of other members of the team and vice-versa.


This process leads to decisions, relationships and approaches that translate into processes, systems and policies that foster wellness, learning and sustainability – the pillars of organization sustainability - and, as a result, sustainable competitive advantage.


The ACT Resilience Development Model™ we developed help people in business create the companies of the future now. Companies with high performance cultures where people are inspired and values-driven that place equal emphasis on financials and people, deliver on market expectations in terms of financial performance and shareholder value, and increase revenue growth and strengthen leadership positions, while growing the organization in sustainable ways.


Implementing Resilience Development in Organizations


Organizations are crated by, exist through the actions of, and are managed and driven by human beings.


Our model for planning and implementing resilience development at individual and organizational level is based on the four levels in which human beings exist – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – which are equivalent to the four levels in which organizations exist in – execution, culture, structure and strategy.

  • Strategic resilience is the ability of an organization to operate around a strategy that is sharply defined, clearly communicated, and well understood by employees, customers, partners, and investors.

  • Cultural resilience encompasses the aspects of the business that can be sensed by people – office politics, levels of motivation, retention rates, conflict and stress, job satisfaction.

  • Structural resilience encompasses systems, structures and policies that support efficient task allocation, arrangement of lines of authority, coordination and supervision, rights and duties, et cetera, which are directed towards the achievement of organizational aims.

  • Physical resilience is the ability of an organization to develop and maintain flawless operation execution.


This model looks in detail at the different competencies that support the development of resilience at each one of these levels, i.e. the model’s 28 key resiliencies.


By becoming aware of these resiliences, and how to consciously develop them at individual, team and organizational levels, we are able to identify gaps and chart organizational development plans more consciously and effectively.


A Personalized Plan


Resilience is not a quality of a lucky few who may be genetically programmed to be stronger or emotionally more optimistic. Don’t be trapped at equating resilience with these qualities alone. A person who is very optimistic may not necessarily be resilient. An organization that is adaptable may not necessarily be very resilient.


Resilience is a state of being that can be developed by every single one of us mere mortals, provided that we are given the right framework, and that we make the choice to embark on our individual resilience development journey.


We believe resilience development enable us to consciously find harmony in chaos by aligning the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our being and of our organizations by connecting “the dots” - the “Why”, the “How”, the “What” and the “Who” – around a personalized plan to a more complete existence. 

Engaging Leadership
by Bill Treasurer

Paula Marcondes is the Founder and has been the Managing Director and Principal Consultant of ACT Human & Business Development Pte Ltd ( since it's inception in 1997. Paula has been working successfully as a consultant servicing multinational organisations and the public sector in Asia for the past 17 years. She specialises in developing and conducting professional development programs for executives and leaders.


Prior to founding ACT Human (formerly known as ACT Training International Pte Ltd), Paula worked as an in-house legal counsel for The General Electric Company of Singapore, in Singapore, and for Richco Comex Ltd in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She set up and managed the legal departments of both companies and provided negotiation and contract management skills training to their executives and managers. Paula holds a Certificate in Training Management from the PSB Singapore (currently known as SPRING), and LL.B Intermediary from the University of London and a Law Degree from the University of Sao Paulo (USP). She is an accredited consultant Team Management Systems (TMS), a member and part-time lecturer at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) and a member of the Singapore Training and Development Association (STADA).


She speaks English, Portuguese and German. Paula’s main area of interest is resilience development in individuals, teams and organisations. She, her husband and two children reside in Singapore. She lives her life with the desire to serve and enrich the lives of those she encounters.

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