Secrets To Building The Bedrock Of Resilience

Spit Bank Lighthouse in Ireland's Cork Harbour

A Foundation For Resilience

This is the Spit Bank Lighthouse. It doesn’t look like much, but this structure has stood in the middle of Ireland’s Cork Harbour since 1853 and there is an awful lot we can learn from it as we recover from a pandemic.

In 1833, the lighthouse was but a dream in the mind of Alexander Mitchell, a completely blind engineer. For those unfamiliar with Cork Harbour, the strong winds and tides are unforgiving. It is a difficult place to anchor a buoy, much less a permanent structure. The lighthouse marks a shallow area in the shipping channel where a turn is required. It has stood for over 167 years because of the way it is anchored to the ground. Nine cast-iron screw-piles are driven about 17 feet into the sea-bed. This technology, invented by Alexander Mitchell was revolutionary in 1833 and is still relevant for business today.  


It’s the screw anchors. They look like larger versions of the plastic sand anchors you buy at the beach to keep beach umbrellas upright. They attach tightly to the ground below and aren’t easily uprooted, no matter what hits them, including over a hundred years of storms and tides. They allow a structure to stand firm in the face of disruption. Screw anchors are a lot like your core beliefs.

Identify Core Beliefs

It is nearly impossible for a lighthouse, a person, or a company to stand in the face of disruption without a strong foundation. Your core beliefs form the bedrock of resilience and the foundation of all you do from here. Are you trying to recover from a pandemic? Fending off a competitor? Figuring out what’s next? The single most important thing you can do is figure out what you stand on…what you stand for. Now, more than ever, this isn’t just fluffy stuff you do when you have time. It needs to be the first thing you do right now. Do this to rally your people – to get them re-engaged – to keep your best talent – especially as you bring people back to work when they feel safer at home. Everything you do right now depends on your ability to identify and align around core beliefs.

Align Around Core Beliefs

When we are in recovery, there is no margin. You cannot afford to have even one person working on something that isn’t aligned with your priorities or working in a way that is counterproductive to recovery.

A recent study of managers and executives found that less than half of employees say they have a clear picture of where they are going and how to get there, yet very few leaders would claim their teams are misaligned.

There will be more work ahead, and in many cases, it will be done by fewer people. If those people are going in the same direction, motivated by your mission, and grounded in the organization’s core beliefs, they can move mountains. When they are not, they become a mountain you will struggle to move. Spending some intentional time with your team thinking through core beliefs may have felt like a luxury before COVID, but now it is absolutely mission critical as you plan for what’s next. Core beliefs guide your mission, your vision, and your values. They form your reason for being and the way your organization makes decisions. Creating alignment around core beliefs ensures that every single person on your team will make decisions aligned with them, even when no one is watching.

Today, one of the tallest buildings in the United States nears completion. 111 West 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan is the thinnest skyscraper in the world with a 1:24 width to height ratio. It offers residences high above Central Park with a full 360-degree view of the city. One can be yours for a mere $30 million. It is truly a marvel that would have been impossible without… you guessed it… screw anchors.

Spend some time figuring out your own core beliefs. Then call your team together and figure out your organization’s core beliefs. Your recovery depends on it. If you need help, call us. It’s what we do.