Why Balance Helps Increase Resilience


Any of us who have played Monopoly know that the dark blues accommodate the highest grossing properties in the game, it’s a premium we’re prepared to pay for the likes of Mayfair and Park Lane (in the UK edition). My interest was therefore piqued when I realised that I was going to work in this property pinnacle for 2 days last week. There’s only one reason why it is the most expensive in the land and that’s because everybody wants to be there. I was going to experience what we all aspire to.

First impressions didn’t disappoint, once past the reception, the atrium opened up into impressive cathedral-like proportions. Four full sized palm trees were seemingly dwarfed in the otherwise empty, marble clad space which rose up multiple floors. When I say there was marble, oh indeed there was marble; brown, pink and cream on the floors, the walls, the stairs, the columns, the banisters, the handrails. Did I mention the marble? Looking up the at the ceiling, a glimpse of the blue sky that held such promise for a gloriously sunny Autumn day was just visible through the bars of the architectural design.

Security was tight and movement impeded although our every need was taken care of, our hosts made sure that we didn’t have to leave the room all day. From the air we breathed, the light we needed, the soundproofing, the constant supply of food and drinks that arrived throughout the day, everything was controlled, there were no distractions, all we had to do was work.

I didn’t realise until exiting into a gloomy dusk some 9 hours later that I had unconsciously let the building swallow me up and I wasn’t feeling too good. I had been completely cocooned from the outside world, it was a shock to feel a different temperature, hear the sounds of the traffic and see green grass. If this is what we all aspire to and I’d been completely taken care of all day, how come my resilience was low, I was feeling wired and tired, and my head pounding?

Resilience is about maintaining balance because whatever the circumstances, there’s a consequence for imbalance; structures will collapse, we will fall over. There was nothing balanced about that day, not the constant caffeine and sugar supply, the manufactured light nor conditioned air. We’re living 21st century lives with cavemen wiring, just as we do need shelter from the harshest natural elements, so we don’t need to spend all our days insulated against them in man made environments whatever the address. Like a pendulum swing we need somewhere in the middle, we need balance.

I returned for day two on a mission to increase my resilience, I looked for ways to introduce some balance. The drinks I replaced with water and avoided the sugar energy slumps by eating more natural healthier snacks purchased elsewhere, I challenged the security system as I got up and moved around. As soon as we broke for lunch I didn’t waste a moment getting outside and into the sunshine, walking around the Square appreciating that city oasis of trees, birds, grass and flowers in a way that I had never before. I began to appreciate the real reason why there’s a premium on those property prices. it’s a shame that the architect hadn’t felt the same way and put some balance into the design of the building.

Feeling refreshed and energised I returned after lunch my neighbour questioning me with surprise as to why I had gone outside as he washed down two paracetamol with a cola.