Charles Darwin is often quoted AND is more often misquoted. The most frequent transgression is, “Only the strong survive.” Fact is, there is no accurate record of him ever saying or writing it.
Here is what Darwin likely said about strength and survival, but even this might be most accurately attributed to a Louisiana State University business professor named Leon C. Megginson and his interpretations of Darwin’s work:
It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
Be an Innovator
Those who know the story of David versus Goliath understand it is about an underdog – a much smaller, weaker opponent – who takes on a champion of greater strength and size and wins. It is not in the winning we find a moral, but in the HOW. Just how could David slay a giant bully named Goliath?
David was incapable of meeting Goliath’s strength and power, but he was capable of adjusting to the situation and adapting to overcome by deploying an intentional strategy. A simple, well selected stone slung to a specific spot on the forehead was the new technology that brought down the giant. His inability to adapt to the change in weaponry proves that powerful change beats established strength when strength does not adapt. It is this moment in thought Michelangelo captures in stone – the child warrior, stone in hand on chin….sling at hip…INNOVATING…becoming a change agent.
Adapt or get Left Behind
Adapting to change is difficult, but not adapting is fatal. History is littered with the corpses of very strong careers and good companies brought to their knees or even sent to the wrong side of grass due to their inability or, worse, their unwillingness to adapt or adjust to the changing environments in which they found themselves.
In almost every case, the conditions for failure were avoidable and prosaic. Maybe the technology to save them was already created and available; maybe they could not escape their arrogant disregard for customer demands; or maybe they maintained a complacent attitude toward new competition. Now, throw in a little fear, change resistance, and a love affair with the comfort zone; shake, and you have the perfect potion for failure.
Unable to defend themselves against competitors armed with new technology, strategies and/or products, they watched sales and profits erode, their best people leave, stock valuations tumble, and their quality of life deteriorate. Snared in a trap usually of their own design, they then become proof of Darwin’s theory as reported by Meggison.
Some eventually recovered after taking quite a few thumps to the head and eating a healthy portion of humble pie. Many did not. Adapt or perish – nature’s imperative.
The only constant is change
Change descends upon each of us equally. The difference is, some of us realize it faster than others and adapt accordingly. It is this awareness of the subtle shifts in the world around us that enables us to best manage the change process.
We can use the word change as an acrostic with reminders that will facilitate our awareness, belief, and commitment in any new initiative designed for proactive impact.
- Consequences. People change for two reasons: their minds have been opened or their hearts have been broken. Action is then taken with anticipation if positive consequences. To make positive change, you need buy in, and you get that by clearly proving the severe disadvantage of not changing and the huge benefit of changing. So, here are two questions relating to your life and business:
What are the advantages of not changing and keeping the status quo?
What desirable consequences can you enjoy by proactively responding to change?
The next five words are all about proactive strategies for addressing, adapting, and navigating the strange process:
- Habits. We will not become all that we want, as individuals or a team, by remaining as we are. To become something new, you have to stop doing the old. This includes the old, outdated and unproductive habits. This begins with the knowledge even us old dawgs can, must and do actually learn new tricks.
Q: what new habits need to be developed to remain competitive? Remember, change of any type will be painful, difficult and inconvenient at the start, will gets messy in the middle, and then will appear wonderfully elegant at the end.
Be willing to extend yourself an olive branch up front, for old habits and resistance do have a way of attracting you to relapse in the painful and messy parts. Still, the call to new habits must remain a compelling driver; face the challenge, if change is what you are after.
- Attitude. Einstein said, “The real measure of intelligence is the ability to change;” consider the opposite – the measure of ignorance is in one’s ability to resist change. You must maintain a positive attitude as it relates to current circumstances and the necessity for change while warding off any signs you see in resistance to change. If you face change with fear, your natural inclination will be to go negative, and that is never good.
Q: how can you face change in such a way you maintain a positive and proactive attitude?
- Needs. When it comes to change, the mandate is simple – adapt and overcome. Early acceptance and commitment are needed, and you must get clear on how your needs and priorities will be balanced. While entering into change is difficult, this clarity throughout will ensure the eventual outcome will be positive on a “needs payoff” scale.
Q: what personal needs must be met to ensure a successful change initiative?
- Goals. You must set SMART goals to do things differently, or to do different things. The distinction is important. Getting the right answers and setting the right goals early on will be key to any successful change process and in ALL areas of your life. This goal setting changes the vision into real progress and eventual success. So, I always think of change with these five questions in mind:
• What will it look like when we have accomplished our proposed change?
• Whose help do we need?
• What do we need to do?
• What do we need to not do?
• What are other acceptable alternatives to the desired outcome?
- Empower. Proactive change requires proactive behavior. You feel empowered to make that change when you have the knowledge and resources to achieve specific goals, feel a sense of control, and expect success. You can do things to enhance your perceptions around these elements. To do so, ask yourself:
Q: what is necessary to increase your belief this change initiative is not only within your control but that it will make all the difference in helping you achieve your goals.
If you feel you have all you need and all the control and resources necessary to reach your goals, you will most certainly feel empowered and can expect great change to happen.
Your challenge today is to use this change system:
- to gain the enormous competitive advantage earned in recognizing change is necessary;
- to gain clarity around the life or death consequences of not rapidly adapting to change; and
- to choose to grow through all change – both positive and negative.
At Cerca, we are professionals working with professionals to fine tune talent branding so they can proactively adapt and lead change. If you are a company looking to expand your team with professionals who are focused on delivering work in which they take pride, and you can be proud of, ever day, then we would be privileged to help you in the process. Having created positive change ourselves in the fields where we focus, we know the ins and outs of the companies, the business and the customers leading the way.
That’s a good match for any company. Partner with the group that can talk shop and gain rapport with the change agents who will lead your business into the future. Just email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will begin the process of finding you innovative professionals that help you set records.