2008-03-07 3:04 PM

Upping the Downside with Self Knowledge

I’ve always been a fan of personality tests, mostly for entertainment purposes. Occasionally a test like the Kolbe A will reveal aspects that I hadn’t noticed before. More often I confirm things I already knew about myself such as when I played with the Myers-Briggs test enough to toggle my Introvert/Extrovert by changing one answer that could go either way. Beyond the fun of identifying myself as an ambi-vert (how many ANTP’s do you know?!) these tests can give some useful insight into how to play to our strengths.

Upping the Downside: 64 Strategies for Creating Professional Resilience By Design (Resilience By Design, Volume 2) Take various ideas like Gallup’s strength-based development, a world of uncertain economic outlook, and a healthy dose of slack. Mix in the brain pan of a professional’s professional. Marinade for 10,000 hours of business and executive coaching. Toss with essays from eleven authors. Pour into the metaphoric mold of professional resilience. Serve Upping the Downside warm.

What I have typically been missing in the past is the next step, the application of this new knowledge to affect my behaviors. While I wouldn’t quite consider Upping the Downside to be a personality test it does encourage self-reflection around the 64 core concepts and more importantly it guides and encourages changes in your systems and network rather than attempting to change your personality.

I’ve been working my way through a pre-release copy and am consistently impressed by the depth of the chosen metaphor of professional resilience. The book is split into two distinct, yet interrelated, sections. The first section is a collection of essays from eleven other authors on the topic of professional resilience. The second section is Mike Jay spiraling us deeper into the rabbit hole of self-reflection — all the while maintaining the focus on resilience and how to develop it while maintaining our own identity, talents, and strengths.

So what is resilience? Resilience is the ability to continue in the face of unexpected challenges. This is different than planning for every eventuality by virtue of the unexpected aspect. One of the keys presented in Upping the Downside is slack, and not the lackadaisical avoidance of responsibility popularized by the Church of the Subgenius. Jay presents the concept of slack in more of an engineering frame: the difference between the level at which a system is operating and its current maximum operational capacity. If you are running near your maximum capability then you don’t have much slack left in order to respond to unexpected situations. And the more efficiently a system performs the more likely there will be enough slack to respond appropriately.

I have not yet reached the full depths of my own resilience rabbit hole, especially considering this is a lifelong mindset change rather than a single event. Even with only having made it through five of the eight sections in the survey I have identified several areas of improvement in my own systems — not my self. I’m quite excited to fully experience working within my strengths and talents. I’ve already begun developing the systems and networks to shore-up the areas that are not my strength or talent.

How much slack do you have in your life?
Where could you use more support in order to live your life more fully?

Oh! I barely remembered. The book is launching on March 14 and there will be bonuses and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities available. For more information check out the Upping the Downside membership area which has a special report based around the book and a ton of great resources for resilience. As I understand it the membership is only free until the book launch, so check that out soon, maybe even right now!

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan 12 Comments »

12 Comments on “Upping the Downside with Self Knowledge”

  1. Mike Jay Says:


    Mari sent me this link, thought I would check out what you wrote. It’s interesting that you identified slack…often in business systems because they are crisis systems, the lack of slack in those systems creates cascading effects that are dangerous.

    This happens with people too and what happens is we regress to the level of support–where we can resolve the algorithms of our life conditions sufficiently enough to stabilize outcomes…hence we FIND the downside.

    In Upping the Downside, we try to provide you with the “secrets” of a bazillion hours of experience with clients who taught me a lot about resilience.

    The BIG differences, aside from what you already noticed (we spin off “free energy” while working in our strengths–creating slack–as you say–the ability to change rather than be swamped)…that instead of trying to change ourselves, we “reach out” which has been determined by researchers as the key to resilience–getting resources from others…so, to me, this is pretty cool, when we can elevate the level of support…it’s just that Upping the Downside, sounded sexier…actually i got the title from a rocket scientist who showed me how they do a prep for rocket launch, and by looking at systems in a way to eliminate possible faults, they up the downside, since you can’t predict ahead of time, non-linear events.

    Thanks for reading the book!


  2. Mari Smith Says:

    Wayne, I’m so delighted to read about your experience with Mike Jay’s book!!! This is a wonderful review and I’d like to invite you to paste what’s relevant from here over on Amazon in time for our big launch on Friday?? That’d be awesome!!!

  3. Wayne Buckhanan Says:


    Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful reply. I’m glad you clarified the “reaching out” for my readers. I had been dancing around the subject with the network/support aspect, but it is great to have the man himself explicitly point out another key concept.

    I’m hyped up about leveraging these two aspects: the “internal” aspect of slack within your own life and the “external” aspect of building upon the resources of others.

    This once again reinforces for me the importance of awareness. I had begun working on several of the strategies before reading the book, and now I can identify them, label them, talk about them, and consciously improve them.

    Thanks for investing the time to expose these strategies and even more for the time spent sharing them in written form!

  4. Wayne Buckhanan Says:


    Thanks. As I said, I’m hyped up about exploring these ideas more fully in my life and those of my clients.

    And my Amazon review should be visible as we speak (as I type?!).

    Good luck to both of you (and the other authors) on your launch on Friday!

  5. Mike Jay Says:


    I like your approach, to go fully integral, we try to get you into the individual internal and external, and the collective internal and external, so you can see, it can be a powerful strategy. I explain more about what is integral at http://www.whatisintegral.com.

    Thanks again for being active with the work, we’ll talk soon in our April exploratory!

    Readers should get the book and join our club with free access to these monthly exploratory sessions with the authors of the book.

    Just have them click on your link above and they’ll be taken directly to a book purchase.


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