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Adapt, migrate, or perish

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In principle, when faced with discomfort, there are basically three choices: adapt, migrate, or perish. These are the alternatives available to species, communities, companies, governments, and individuals.

To adapt is to change one’s own behaviors. It’s about doing things differently. Although change is hard and often resisted, evolution has taught us that adaptation is the key to survival. In business terms, innovation is the key to prosperity.

To migrate is to leave one’s situation for a better one. This is sometimes the appropriate response to external factors. If your group, your partner, your company, or your community are doing you wrong and unlikely to change, you might exercise your choice to leave. But if your discomfort is caused by something internal, some attitude or habit that only you can change, when you leave you will simply take the discomfort with you. Best to adapt: the solution is to change something in yourself.

To perish is an option not to be overlooked. Sometimes the best choice is to actually go out of business, disband, surrender. This is often the way to peace.

Homo sapiens, with our enlarged brains, are inclined towards a fourth choice: wishful thinking. When faced with discomfort I am likely to spend huge amounts of energy wishing that things were different, complaining, trying to get others to adapt to me, denying my part in my discomfort, justifying why I am right and others are wrong, and being angry at the situation with all manner of adverse consequences. These approaches rarely, if ever, improve my comfort over the long run.

Practical Tip: If you or your group don’t like things the way they are, adapt, migrate, or perish.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

3 thoughts on “Adapt, migrate, or perish

  1. I’d like to add one item to the list: proactively change what is causing the discomfort. The future has not happened. It is not written. If you don’t like what you see ahead, then your future is being controlled by external forces. If it is societal, then someone’s else’s dreams – plans – expectations are controlling your life. Part of taking control is envisioning a practical and desirable future for yourself, and then execute a plan to accomplish that future. In reality, that plan becomes an adventure. Part of adventures is that things don’t go as planned. This results in learning (which is growth). Likely that vision of the future will undergo an iterative process.

  2. I got the initial idea for this Tip from a story I heard about a teenage girl living at home who complains that she doesn’t like the dinner provided. Rather than fuss to accommodate, the busy mom simply says “adapt, migrate or perish.”

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