What is resonance?
‘Resonance’ as a word must be understood beyond its dictionary definition. The very dry and restricted definition in a dictionary does not do justice to this beautiful and potent concept; so here is my reasoning on the concept of resonance.
It is a state when you feel an abundance of energy flowing free from within, towards attaining fulfilment.
We have learnt the concept of resonance in our physics classes at school. Any metal, when struck, vibrates and makes a sound. Do you remember an experiment in school, of hitting a metal tong on a hard surface?
Each metal, among its other properties, has a natural frequency of vibration. When we strike the metal at its natural frequency, its amplitude of vibration doubles – that is resonance.
Each metal has a natural frequency that is unique to it, just like its other properties, such as specific gravity or melting point.
You can feel resonance in music as well. If you pull or strike the string of a stringed musical instrument in just the right way, you can hear the string buzzing and letting out melodious, long-lasting musical vibrations. A musician with trained ears quickly sets or tunes his instruments in this manner.
You can also hear this resonance in the sound of a ball being hit by a cricket bat or even a tennis racquet, just at the right spot, at the right time.
Is human resonance possible?
I borrow this concept to understand human behaviour, where I think it is equally applicable, and more importantly, has far greater implications in the areas of employee engagement and excellence.
Just like metals, I believe that each human being has a very unique natural frequency, which when touched, causes a person to resonate, just like, when a raw nerve is touched, causing someone to explode or breakdown!
Striking people at their natural frequency is about making them feel good about their existence and their purpose of being there. This is achieved by getting people to do, what they love most, by aligning their individual purpose with their pursuits within the organisation.
Every person has a certain constitution, which is unique in combination, but not exclusive in its components. This constitution is made up of or defined by the person’s attitude, beliefs, value system, dispositions, drives, purpose of life ( PoL ), and so on.
Striking a natural frequency is the process of seeking the closest alignment between the constitution and the work, as well as the ambience in which a human operates. The greater the alignment, the closer you get to the natural frequency of that person.
It is, therefore, very important to make a careful choice of constitutionally more aligned persons when selecting candidates for positions, in an organisation, especially at a senior level and more acutely in the service industry.
How does it feel? How do I sense resonance?
When people like what they are doing, resonance occurs. Just like with metals, the amplitude doubles in human resonance too. This is exhibited through their work output (productivity), work quality (efficiency), and collaborative and synergistic tendencies in team working.
It is also equally visible through the joy, energy, and sense of fulfilment a person feels. It is seen through the pro-activeness with which a person works. At this level, the person works with a lot of ownership and self-management.
He/she does not need to be told or supervised, which is a common but avoidable curse of current management working.
More importantly, when it happens, you can feel it for yourself and see in others this resonance, this state of exhilaration, where you experience ecstasy and joy in anything you do.
This is a state where things happen, and you don’t need to try too hard, where nothing you do is a burden for you, and the more you do what you are doing, the happier and more energised you feel (not tired).
You float through situations smoothly and everything seems to make sense to you. You have a purpose of existence and feel life is too short for all that you want to do. You have a great sense of self-worth and feel immensely fulfilled. It is a very desirable state of mind to be in.
We as individuals, and as organisations, should not let resonance happen in sporadic bursts and unpredictable patterns, but see that this resonance becomes a sustainable, natural state to be in. Eventually, resonance needs to become a part of the organisation’s cultural compulsion.
Apart from individual resonance, there is also a collective resonance, like the bees humming and working in perfect harmony.
When resonance happens within an organisational setup, you see not just outstanding results, but contagious high energy levels among employees. A buzz persists around them, and you feel the vibrancy in the ambience.
Positivity shows not just in measurable results, but also in individual fulfilment, happiness, and higher employee engagement that leads to high retention. When collective resonance happens, we see a multiplier effect. These organisations may even reach a stage of collective consciousness. Where things begin to happen or progress, everyone knows their roles, and nothing needs to be explained to them. More sensed and felt than told, more implicit than explicit.
How do we help human resonance?
How do we make a person resonate? How do we know his/her natural frequency?
The answer is through tuning, the same way we tune into various radio stations. It is like a wavelength at which radio wave transmission happens for a channel or a radio station, where if your receiving device is tuned to catch that frequency, you successfully connect to it!
There is no ready formula, but I do have a good understanding of what, why, and how it works. It is about striking a chord with another person. The various initiatives we can undertake for reaching human resonance can be categorised into two buckets – alignment and ambience.
Alignment: Each of us has a natural tendency, an inherent strength, to do something very well. While a person may be average at some things, there will always be at least one thing where he really excels, and that is what the Gallup calls ‘talent’.
We only need to understand an employee’s talent and align it with the right role. When people do what they are naturally inclined to do, they reach excellence and thereby achieve a greater sense of fulfilment.
Alignment starts much before people get into their role. It starts with the right selection and right on-boarding.
Ambience: We do not need to make a person resonate; the individual does that himself. What the organisation needs to do is to provide a facilitative ambience for each individual to blossom. There are many mechanisms and tools you can use to root the employee with the organisation, in a foundation of trust and comfort. For instance,
– Creating an outstanding on-boarding experience
– Establishing a buddy system
– UYE – Understanding Your Employee beyond the CV and identifying that one aspect through which we can create a unique value
– Establish EVP – Employee Value Proposition, which is a non-monetary promise an organisation holds, to make an employee long to belong there
– Establishing a coaching culture in the organisation – Professional coaching services can be found using ICF’s directory of credentialed coaches spread across India and the world.
We are now at a point, where we understand what human resonance is and how significant it can be for the individuals and for the organisation as a consequence.
The course each organisation needs to take in creating human resonance, needs to be rooted in its context and has to come indigenously from its unique ‘constitution’ – above stated is only a broad illustrative framework .
Even more important is the choice an organisation needs to make if and when in its life course it wishes to create human resonance, by sensing its ‘inner core’ / inner voice on how intensely it desires that.
The purity and intensity of its desire underlines success in creating the resonance – individual & collective!
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organisation leading the global advancement of the coaching profession and fostering the role of coaching as an integral part of a thriving society. Founded in 1995, its 35,000-plus members located in more than 140 countries and territories work toward the common goals of enhancing awareness of coaching and upholding the integrity of the profession through lifelong learning and upholding the highest ethical standards. Through the work of its six unique family organisations, ICF empowers professional coaches, coaching clients, organisations, communities and the world through coaching. Visit coachingfederation.org for more information.
In India, ICF is represented by six vibrant chapters, all led by volunteers — ICF Bengaluru, ICF Chennai, ICF Delhi, ICF Mumbai, ICF Pune and ICF Hyderabad.
The author, Yatin Samant is an ICF PCC-credentialed coach with more than 34 years of corporate working career across a diverse set of industries, nationality/ geographies and culture in different function areas . He has previously been the P&L head and SBU head/ CEO. Yatin retired early to dedicate himself to the cause of leadership development & human leveraging in general, pioneering the ‘Inside-Out’ learning pathway vs the conventional ‘Outside -In ‘ pathway.