What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger?

In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of millions of people. We’ve had to become accustomed to a number of new, unexpected changes to our work, leisure, and other activities. But how much change is too much change?

First, I thought about what change actually means, seeing as there can be both positive and negative change and the capacity for charge varies depending on the individual. One can initiate change of their own volition (as in losing weight) or they can have change thrust upon them, such as what has happened with the coronavirus.

The number of changes experienced, and the magnitude of each change are important considerations towards determining how much change one individual can accommodate in a period of time. On this note, I found a compelling article that discusses change saturation written from an organizational point of view. The article says change saturation is a function of two variables; change capacity and change disruption. This sort of supply and demand functions how much change a group or organization can handle and how much change is currently happening.

Think of this analogy as a bucket of water. Change capacity is how large the bucket is while change disruption is how much water is in or being added to the bucket. When change disruption is greater than change capacity, an organization faces change saturation in contemplation of significant changes that must be made.

Consider Nietzsche’s statement; ’What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ An article from Psychology Today refutes this notion and says quote, ‘but the bulk of psychological research on the topic shows that as a rule, if you are stronger after hardship, it is probably despite not because of the hardship. The School of Hard Knocks does little more than knock you down hard. Nietzschean and country song wisdom notwithstanding, we are not stronger in the broken places. What doesn’t kill us in fact makes us weaker.’

Considering, in particular, the impacts of involuntary change in employee’s lives, a caring employer should determine how much change saturation is taking place within an organization and adjust as needed.