The secret to grow your future: know how to adapt

Photo - Bruno Martins

Don’t Deal With It.
Adapt To It.

I have to confess!

I’m a bit of a prehistoric geek.
And especially fascinated by the Neanderthal.

But sadly, they get a bad name :(

Instead of being moronic brutes, research shows they were intelligent and social.

So why aren’t they still around?

The common theory for their demise is that us Homo sapiens wiped them out.
But there’s evidence we actually lived side by side.

Science suggests their demise was due to something else.

Neanderthals were great at survival.
After all, they were around for millennia.
But as the climate and food sources evolved, and competition emerged, they struggled to change.
They couldn’t adapt to the world around them.

So what does this mean for you?

In a nutshell, that it’s important you can adapt.

Let’s say you live in London, like me.
Do you adapt to the weather and carry an umbrella?
Take the attitude 'I’ll deal with it, if I get wet'?

The first puts you in an empowered position.
The other puts you at it’s mercy.

A situation you're probably facing right now is COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
The world’s been plunged into chaos.
I bet your daily routine’s been thrown in the air.
Work, travel, shopping and even what you’re eating.
Who’d have thought random food combinations could be such fun!

All this stuff’s been forced on you out of the blue.
It’s been a shock to us all.

But how are you reacting?

Are you dealing with it or adapting?

During the pandemic we’ve seen supermarket shelves stripped bare.
Limited supplies means you can’t enjoy your usual meals.
How are you responding?

Dealing with it, you prepare your usual food, but with half the ingredients missing.
You make little or no attempt to create something different.

Adapting, you get creative with your cooking.
You look up new recipes online.
You experiment with food combinations you’ve perhaps never thought of.
(Ok, I draw the line at sardines and chocolate ice cream 🤢)

The point is, even though situations are forced on you, you still have choices.
It’s all down to how you react.

So let’s delve deeper into the dealing v adapting approach.
And see how using an adaptive mindset, you’ll

  • Be better prepared for the next challenge
  • Get perspective on tricky situations
  • Effectively use support from others
  • Break out of old habits and create new solutions
  • Channel your energy productively

The 5 game changers of dealing v adapting mindsets

1. Firefighting fix v Purposeful problem-solving

Dealing with it, or firefighting, suggests doing the minimum to survive.
It’s focussed on immediate short-lived solutions.
Only reacting when something happens.
It’s a process you repeat over and over.

This gives the illusion of swiftly getting to grips.
It makes you feel good.
You’re reacting rather than lying down and giving in.
You feel empowered.
BUT it’s deceptive as none of your energy is preparing for the future.

Adapting focusses on longer term solutions.
Still tackling the current situation, but also problem solving for the future.
In other words, planning ahead.
So next time round you’re better prepared.

Example - A literal example is a forest fire.
You need swift action to extinguish the flames.
But in addition, firefighting teams also work to prevent it happening again.
Like installing water stations and creating breaks in vegetation.

2. Microscope view v Aerial drone action shot

Dealing with it focusses on tiny details.
Often preventing you seeing the bigger picture.
You can’t spot broader changes that would help.

Adapting is about stepping back and creating perspective.
You see the forest, not just a tree.
Taking time to make one broad change instead of millions of little adjustments.
In other words, don’t get fixed on what’s right in front of you.
This saves time, energy and is more effective in the long run.

Example - Companies start small and grow over time.
As they grow, so do the number of departments.
When a crisis happens, each department busily works on their individual tasks.
This is the microscope.
A good company leader will be taking the aerial perspective.
Because departments don’t necessarily know what the others are doing.
By directing the whole approach they can bring one sweeping solution.

3. Go it alone v Use support

Dealing with it "How can anyone else truly know what I’m experiencing?"
You might not have the time or desire to share your challenge with others.
So you convince yourself it’s better to tackle it alone.
This might make you feel in control.
But it isolates you. You only have your own ideas and energy to draw on.

Adapting means reaching out.
Opening your mind, exploring options and creating space for others to help.
Even if you’re the only one experiencing something, communicate and connect with others.
Don’t be alone.
This taps into the support and resources around you.

That old saying - 'A problem shared is a problem halved'

Example - Ever met up with friends to go for a picnic?
Sure you have.
If you’re the one organising it, you’ve got 2 choices.
Tell everyone to bring some drinks and grub with them
OR do it all yourself!

4. Rely on habits v New thinking

Dealing with it, you default to your usual behaviours when facing a challenge.
But these habits can mean you close your thinking. You’re not making any changes.
It’s ironic that unhelpful habits could’ve led you to the challenge in the first place.
So how can they solve it now?!

Adapting, you learn, practice new ways, try things out, experiment.
You come at it from a new angle.
You’re curious, brave, innovative.
You open your mind and thinking and get creative when it comes to problem solving.

Example - Like Neanderthal, sometimes it’s not an immediate challenge you’re aware of.
The threat is long term.
This could be your lifestyle choices that damage your health.
Or only living day to day. Not making any plans for your future.

Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!
- Dr Seuss

Discover why you get trapped in old habits and how to escape them.

Read Is Stubborn Thinking Keeping Your Life Stuck?

5. Resenting v Embracing

Dealing with it means putting on a brave face.
But underneath you’re resenting and resisting the situation.
You’ve thoughts like

  • 'Why’s this happening to me?'
  • 'When will it all end?'
  • 'What am I supposed to do now!?'

Psychology tells us negative thinking impacts outcome.
You end up ruminating to try and make sense of things.
This feels safer than accepting there may not be immediate answers.

Adapting, you accept the situation for what it is.
This neutralises unhelpful thoughts.
It prevents you getting damaged by them.
'I can’t change what’s going on right now, but I’m going to embrace what I can do and be empowered.'

Example - Your gym’s shut due to COVID-19.
Do you sit sulking? Resenting the situation?
Or do you throw on your gear and do an online class, or go for a blast outside? 🏃🏃🏿

What screws us up most in life,
is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.
- Socrates

What you can do

An adaptive mindset means you adjust to different conditions or environments.

Next time try these to come out on top

  1. Take a moment, step back, and look at the bigger picture.
  2. Look beyond your immediate challenge or problem.
  3. Ask yourself 'who could help?'
  4. Be aware of your behaviours and decisions.
  5. Modify habits to produce a different outcome.
  6. Try something new, be curious, experiment and get creative.
  7. Don’t get trapped by your negative thoughts

Here’s your challenge.

What’s one specific problem you’re struggling with?
That if you could adapt to, would put you on top.

Now shift your mindset by applying one of the 7 adjustments above.

Be open to creating a different outcome and empowering results.

So the next time a challenge comes your way . . .

Don’t be a Neanderthal.
Don’t deal with it.
Adapt to it.

Stay inspired, take action, keep adventuring!

Coach, Creative and Life Adventurer
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