by Brian Mitchell, CEO & Managing Partner
20+ years ago I started my career in telecom sales. This was back in time when the telecom industry was actually dynamic and interesting in its rapid evolution. Products changed quickly, go to market models changed quickly, personnel (especially sales) also changed quickly. A group of consistently high performers in my office used to share a quoted expression from a famous yesteryear rapper named Chucky D who philosophically said “adapt or die”. Ok, so maybe Charles Darwin wasn’t actually a rapper but somehow it seemed cooler at the time to generate the nickname “Chucky D”….though fairly unimportant to my upcoming point. ‘Adapt or die’ is a fundamental principal of Darwinian theory suggesting species – human beings, animals, plants – that endure survival and growth are not necessarily the strongest nor most intelligent, but the ones most adaptable to change. Think about that. The comparative analogies and real-world examples are all around us as evidence to this truism yet certain species continue to dwindle or thrive despite this knowledge. As human beings, we are (supposedly) evolved beings with frontal lobe development enabling our ability to think and reason. Despite that enormous advantage many of us still ignore this evidence that ‘adapt or die’ reveals.
Translate this concept into our professional lives. We all have careers, businesses, opportunities, setbacks, growth periods, lulls, diverted paths, unanticipated decisions, stresses, wins. Many of our circumstances are self-created, good or bad, past, current or permanent. We take on a new role of sorts and when faced with challenges, we either rise or we fold. And plenty of external influences impact our lives too – our company gets sold and we make some windfall money or our company goes bankrupt and payroll stops coming one day. Who gets impacted by these outcomes doesn’t necessarily correlate with smarts or strengths. A lot of these conditions can’t be controlled but our response, our ability to adapt, to these situations dictates everything else. To quote another smart philosopher, Gandhi simply suggested that “the future will depend upon what we do in the present”. A simple powerful statement about NOW and impacting what you can control TODAY. The reality is the bankruptcy setback example above can serve as a springboard to a massive next step success, it all depends upon how we adapt to the new environment we are in. And conversely, the one who lands an interim windfall might take her foot off the gas, dull her skills and drive, and once that windfall runs dry she’ll be lost with no momentum behind her. Circumstances change but we are all the single common denominator in whatever it is we do in life. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we are inherently the single common thread of our situational circumstance.
Take a step back, examine your daily routine, scrutinize your habits, and ask yourself if you’ve adapted to improve. Are you on pace to your personal and professional objectives? What threats exist that could derail you? How can you move faster or change the method of your movement so you beat that competitive threat? What iterations or pioneering initiatives have you developed to ensure you continue to respond to your surroundings? An adjusted model? An additive technology? A tweaked process? More hours? More people? Quantum changes might not be necessary but nuanced changes are necessary no matter who you are and regardless of the vocational path you’re on. Waiting and watching is equivalent to dying. Act.
“Adapt or die.” – Chucky D.