Remember How Adaptable You Are

September 18 2008 – 05:21pm

Remember when I told you to…remember…how adaptable you are? Do it. Really. When you remember how adaptable you are, and put confidence in yourself to make it through changes in your life, you are exercising your process. Huh?

Hmm...this is just like being right side up, only different

So I have this theory that interpreting the stimuli in your life is a process. You know that feeling you get when you start a new project, or take a different route to work – a feeling like your brain is suddenly “alive” again? That’s your little process being improved. Your brain is taking in all of that new stimuli, interpreting it, comparing it to times before when it encountered stimuli that was similar in some way, and improving its process of interpreting that stimuli. So, each time you start a project, you get a little better at recognizing and scheduling your resources. Each time you try to find your way around an unfamiliar city, you get a little better at figuring out where the heck you are.

Stagnation and the Serial Starter

You know those people from your home town high school, that you mock because they got married at 19, had kids, got divorced at 23, and nothing about them has “evolved?” First of all, quit being such an elitist jerk. Second, they aren’t as “evolved” because they didn’t work on their process. They made high-commitment decisions before they were ready to. They didn’t move on to a new relationship when their process encountered the things that weren’t going to work out. They didn’t see if they could keep a plant alive before they made themselves responsible for human beings.

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What about that entrepreneur you know who constantly has 8 projects going, none of which seem to get anywhere? He’s working on his process. In “The Dip,” Seth Godin compares this to moving from one line to the next at the supermarket. He’s dead wrong about that, because when you move from one line to the next at the supermarket, you reap nothing from your experience in the previous line. This ADD-ridden entrepreneur is improving his process of interpreting the stimuli of each of his projects, learning how to recognize that perfect mix of passion, resources, and business fundamentals that it takes to make a successful venture.

My Story

I remember just a few weeks before my first day of college, I was talking to a friend of mine. I was really nervous about moving – even though the college I had chosen was only a couple of hours away. She said, “you’ll be fine – you’re adaptable.” I assume she meant the general “you,” because I certainly hadn’t demonstrated that I was adaptable. I had lived in the same house my entire life, but somehow what she said made me feel better.

In the decade since then, I have changed colleges, lived in a foreign country, saw my home town through new eyes, lived in the pits of Silicon Valley, lived in San Francisco, moved to Chicago – and countless other experiences beyond the occassional bike ride to K-Mart that I considered an “adventure” while growing up.

Some people probably think I’m non-committal, but I know I’m just working on my process. Every move gets a little bit easier because my process is better and better. Deciding where to live, where to get my basic things, making new friends, finding work – the process of moving always has it’s similarities. Each new city I live in, project I work on, or friend that I make, improves my process, and defines me.

So remember how adaptable you are – and improve your process. Maybe it is as simple as taking a different route to work, or maybe you’ve never traveled alone without an itinerary. Whatever that thing is that’s just a little bit outside of your comfort zone – go for it. Rinse and repeat, and watch your process “evolve.”

Photo by BurningQuestion

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This post is filed under Creative Productivity, Ideas, Life Hacks.