I’ve been reading this amazing book lately by James Kerry called Legacy in which he discusses the characteristics of the New Zealand national ruby team, The All Blacks. One of the major characteristics of this group is their leader’s focus on adaptive growth – growth associated with recognizing and responding to the dynamics of our ever changing world. As I read through some of the lessons expounded upon for this particular characteristic, I was reminded of how many people often put their heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the changes in the world and, therefore, are often always against anything that represents any type of progress when it comes to certain social or scientific views. Many of these individuals are the ones who want to “Make America Great Again” by taking us back 60 years to when things were not quite as “free” for everybody as it is now. Adaptive growth is a shared characteristic of the long term successful because it allows them to consistently make changes to their approach and strategy to life by accepting these changes and living their lives accordingly. There are several reasons that to be long term successful you HAVE to adopt this as a tenet of your life philosophy.
You can miss out on so much that is beneficial…and fun!
We live is a world of ever-changing growth. By the very nature of how we came to exist (I’m going with evolution on this one if anyone was wondering), our world is one of consistent adaptation and growth. In business and society, those who refuse to recognize the difference between our world even five years ago and today are at risk of seeming archaic in the eyes of the younger or more adaptive generation. I was at a meeting this past week when someone requested to get a letter in the mail because he felt email was too difficult to understand. Really? Everyday, there is a chance for something to happen that could change the course of our lives. When these new discoveries or changes come to fruition, we have two choices: To take the time to learn and grow with the time or close our eyes and ears to change and continue to live in the past. The problem with the latter is that, by doing so, there are so many great things about the new world that will pass you by. It’s comparable to the person who refused to learn how to type as opposed to writing by hand. This person never knew how much content she or he could’ve created had they embraced the technological advances of the future. We can take this today’s time with social media. Snapchat, while definitely more confusing than Facebook, is probably 10 times more fun (who doesn’t love the dog filter?), but many people refuse to give it a shot because it is a little more complicate. This could also be compared to those individuals who are stuck in a certain generation when it comes to music, completely ignoring some of the great musical talent that is being discovered today (now I admit that Young Thug and Desiigner are probably worth ignoring, but there ARE some very talented artist out there besides these two).
What worked yesterday won’t work today
In the famous words of Bob Dylan, “Times are a Changin.” What that simply means is the success you had in the past with whatever techniques were working at the time are likely to NOT work in the future. With the dynamics of new information, new perspective, and new means of communication, often comes a restructuring of what works and doesn’t in terms of business and society. For example, remember when someone used to be able to have a fake “girlfriend” in another part of town that no one knew because she went to another school. With social media, that’s pretty much impossible…unless you’re, of course, Manti Te’o. In relation to business, brick and mortar stores used to be able to charge whatever they wanted based on consumers lack of options when it came to purchasing that Louis Vuitton Kim Kardarshian vintage purse (if that isn’t a thing, they should probably look into that…you’re welcome, Louis Vuitton), but now the internet gives them so many options that if you don’t have a competitive price, you are at risk of pricing yourself out before someone would even considering stepping into your store. People no longer have to buy entire albums because of the ease of individual song purchases through streaming. Commercials have less ability to influence consumers, as DVR television allows individuals to completely skip them consistently. If you’re not consistently thinking about how the changes in the world may affect you and your business, you’ll be at risk of going the way of Blockbuster and Circuit City (remember them?) from a business aspect or be that uncle who is always smelling of Cool Water and Jheri Curl juice at the family reunion.
Once you stop learning, you start dying
Our brains are very complex. The cerebral cortex is at the focal point of many of our abilities from a cognitive perspective and the optimal functioning of it is what allows our ability to think and react quickly to various situations and live an overall high quality of life from an intelligence standpoint. When you refuse to recognize new things in our world and adopt them as our own, you are at risk of stalling the continuous growth of our brain’s synapses and put yourself at risk of cognitive atrophy over the course of time. Comparable to your physical muscles, your brain needs consistent stimulation (exercise) to continue to grow and maintain it cognitive strength and stamina. As with any muscle, when it does the same exercise over and over, it eventually figures out how to give just enough energy to do the exercise and is not challenged enough to grow. When this happens, not only will your muscles will NOT grow, but they will begin to actually lose the strength that they have already attained because they are not pushed to stay a the top of their game. When you relate this to your brain, by learning new things and pushing yourself to stretch your thinking, you are increasing the vitality of your long term thinking and reduce the risk of such diseases as dementia and Alzheimer’s, something that I think we all would appreciate.
I get it. Living in the past is often so much more desirable as you age because you naturally feel that you’ve learned everything you needed to for success in the world and, let’s face it, learning new stuff is hard. And while there are definitely some “forever” truths that will not change based on the decade or period in which we may live, there are many things that we must consistently evaluate and re-evaluate to know if it’s something we should or should not adopt in the future. If not, we’ll be at risk of missing out on so many things that could make our lives easier and more exciting, keep us at the cutting edge of the business world, and prevent us from ending up walking around lost in a Walmart one day in our pajamas – which for me personally would be reason enough by itself.