It Isn’t The Strong That Survive

Okay, I admit it; this is a pet peeve of mine. It gets under my skin when people cite Darwin as the source for the old saying that only the strong survive, because in reality that is not true. A species or subspecies does not survive because it is strong, it survives because it can adapt.

Sure, strength can, will, and does prevail but there comes a point where you need more than strength; you must be able to change and adapt in order to stay on top. All that you need to today is take a look around you at what is accepted and not accepted today as social norms.

As a society, we are evolving… For instance, consider the flag that represented the Confederate States of America… 20-30 years ago it was a commonplace thing to see, almost a kitschy part of Americana. Today that emblem is viewed as being symbolic of hatred, racism, bigotry and general backwardness of thought, and rightfully so. It is an extreme example but I believe it makes a point.

We are evolving, and in order to remain relevant, we must adapt. It’s as plain as that.

With strength alone, you can only resist for so long, being adaptable allows you to change, to evolve, and to survive. Of course the perfect combination is to have the strength to stand by your convictions while at the same time being able to entertain new and different points of view objectively.

So how adaptable are you? Do you dig your heels in and refuse to embrace new processes, procedures, and technologies in your workplace while simultaneously holding on the “old-ways” with a death grip?

How about your relationships – in particular the relationship with your primary partner, are you able to allow it to grow and evolve though different stages in life or do you cling on insisting that things never change from what they were in the beginning? Can you accept your partner’s changes and growth within their life-cycle and allow the relationship to grow as a result also?

Can you yourself adapt to new thoughts and ideas, especially those that challenge your old or current belief system? Being able to admit you were or might be wrong about something and allowing yourself to be open to other facts or truths not only shows adaptability but also your ability to learn and subsequently grow as a person.

One of my favorite lines from the movie Heartbreak Ridge with Clint Eastwood in it is when his character Gunnery Sergeant Highway tells his Marines, “You must adapt, improvise, and overcome.” Notice the order of words, there… he didn’t say be strong, improvise, and overcome, adapt was the first word, and for a very good reason.

It isn’t the strong that survive but those more capable of adapting to the situations and environment around them and business have the same problem as people do in this regard. Look at McDonald’s for instance… for years McDonald’s insisted on not changing, or improving customer service or satisfaction, nor did they attempt to improve their food offerings. Why not? Because McDonald’s was the top dog for so long, why should they change?  And now this company is failing miserably because they relied on their strength in the market while other smaller companies have grown and adapted to what customers really desire, good food, quality food, good value, and great service.

How adaptable are you? Do you rely more on your ability to be fluid and change with the times, or do you dig in while opposing any and all change?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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