Adaptable: How do we adapt to change?

Next week is Rare Disease Day, and for many of us it came without warning. And now everyone is in the same boat, learning to live a life completely different to before.

So how do we adapt to change?

Thanks to the following guest for participating:

Shanna Lee, intuitive healer, celebrity manifestation coach, and author of The Soul Frequency: Your Healthy, Awakened and Authentic Life.

Here are some of the resources from the show:

Dr Max McKeown speaks to Unimenta:

M.J. Ryan speaks to Live Your Empowered Life:

Who Moved My Cheese? animation:

Books looked at this week:

Dr Max McKeown: Adaptability: The Art of Winning In An Age of Uncertainty

M.J. Ryan: How to Survive Change . . . You Didn’t Ask For: Bounce Back, Find Calm in Chaos, and Reinvent Yourself

Dr Spencer Johnson: Who Moved My Cheese?

PS. I do not receive commission for reviewing books and talks.

Transcription

Exploring how we can master ourselves by looking at how experts say it is possible with your host Suswati Basu.

Intro music

Welcome to the thirteenth episode of How To Be…with me Suswati as your timid presenter, guiding you through life’s tricky skills by taking this learning journey with you.

Next week is a time for me to reflect on Rare Disease Day. It’s significant for me because a rare disease made me have to adapt to an entirely new life overnight. And now everyone seems to be going through something not too dissimilar. I was stuck indoors for 11 months when I had my first relapse, and with COVID, it appears everyone is in the same boat.

So how do we adapt to change?

Dr Max McKeown, psychologist and author of Adaptability: The Art of Winning In An Age of Uncertainty looks at how adapting has become a key skill in all areas. Here he is speaking to podcast Unimenta.

MAX MCKEOWN

Dr McKeown writes about American golf star Tiger Woods, who in 2011 went from number one to number 58 in the rankings. It all began with a scandal regarding alleged substance abuse. However he didn’t let that get to him.

He continued working hard, even as his stats slipped, and learned how to deal with the media pressure he was under. His perseverance paid off. By March 2013, he was back at the top of world golf rankings. He is referred to the author as “High adaptability, high achievement people,” or HAHAs for short.

What sets them apart is their ability to focus on solutions rather than problems. They look on the bright side of life even as things seem to be falling apart around them, and they remain determined to achieve their goals. They’re also typically unafraid to ask for help and reach out to people who can support them in their struggle to reassert themselves. 

Dr McKeown says sometimes adaptability means swimming against the current, and that can help the environment like in the case of Netflix, which was originally a DVD rental service, but saw the market was dying and convinced its customer base about streaming over the Internet as early as 2001, failing quickly and scaling fast.

He also says that our brains function on the basis of adaptability. Citing the story of Spanish teacher Pedro Bach-y-Rita who suffered a stroke that left him paralysed, the teacher’s sons who were in medical school, decided to physically re-educate him from scratch, as though he were a baby. Within a year he was back to work teaching Spanish.

It comes down to the plasticity of the human brain. Essentially, the undamaged parts of his brain took control over the damaged areas.

Adaptability is, in large part, the art of learning from mistakes as well as resisting the urge to go back to square one as PepsiCo discovered in 2009 when it tried to rebrand Tropicana orange juice, only for sales to plummet 20%. It then went back to square one with a few minor tweaks having spent $33 million for nothing.

But it doesn’t mean that we should rush to adapt for the sake of it, whilst also ensuring that we do think ahead.

The second book to explore is MJ Ryan’s How to Survive Change . . . You Didn’t Ask For: Bounce Back, Find Calm in Chaos, and Reinvent Yourself. Ryan is a personal change expert and has written on a number of topics including patience and gratitude. Here is Ryan speaking

MJ RYAN

Ryan addresses seven truths about change which includes Change Is the One Thing You Can Count On. Even though most of us can’t know for sure when and how change will hit us, we can at least keep in our awareness the simple fact that it will. And when we are aware of change, we can see the signs earlier, so we’re ahead of the wave.

The second is that change is not personal. Just remember we are just one of the little fish in a big aquarium whose ecosystem was changing.

The third truth is Your Thinking Is Not Always Your Friend. We need to keep perspective so we can be effective in handling the change. Becoming aware when we’re in one of these habitual thinking ruts is the first step toward making a different choice.

The fourth is Change Isn’t the Enemy, Fear Is. Let’s face it—change isn’t always positive. But fear is the true challenge of change. Our response to even difficult change will be easier when we learn to relate effectively to any fear that arises.

Fifth is There’s a Predictable Emotional Cycle to Change. According to resiliency research, Change Masters allow themselves to feel their difficult feelings, but they don’t take them on as a permanent state.

Sixth is You’re More Resilient Than You May Think. Research by psychology professors Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun shows that not only do we have the ability to grow through the challenges of our life, what they call posttraumatic growth, but also the benefits of doing so include improved relationships, new possibilities for our lives, a greater appreciation for life, a greater sense of personal strength, and spiritual development.

And last but not least, Your Future Is Built on a Bedrock That Is Unchanging. During change, getting more in touch with that “youness” is crucial because it’s the raw material you bring to any and all circumstances. Among other things, that “youness” is made of four elements: what you love to do, the unique ways of thinking you are excellent at that which you’ve been doing your whole life, what deeply matters to you, and the environments that bring out the best in you. Together, these create your sense of purpose.

Our last book is by is the seminal work by Dr Spencer Johnson. Who Moved My Cheese was on the New York Times bestselling list for almost five years. Who Moved My Cheese was actually turned into animation, and the whole video can be seen on www.howtobe247.com. Here is a snippet.

SPENCER JOHNSON

Following around the story of four mice, the two seemingly brainless mice Sniff and Scurry spend their time running up and down the corridors of their maze, in search of cheese.

 This mindless way in which these two mice set about achieving their goal is instructive, and is often the most effective method in reaching your own goals. In fact, acting without thinking too much can save you time and energy.

If there’s no cheese at the end of a path, for example, Sniff and Scurry simply turn around and scramble down another path – without wasting time being angry or frustrated. Whilst the more complex Hem and Haw were also searching for cheese but only because they thought it would make them happy and successful.

What this suggests is like Hem and Haw, when we find success or “our cheese,” we can quickly become dependent on it, so much so that our life revolves only around our “cheese.”

Johnson says change always happens, sooner or later. Being aware of this can help you keep a closer eye on your current situation, to better anticipate the change ahead.

Sniff and Scurry never took the stash of cheese for granted, and made sure to keep an eye out for any changes to the supply. If you expect things to remain the same, you may miss the signs that things are indeed changing.

Sometimes the things we believe about ourselves make it harder to accept change. If you feel you deserve success, good health or an endless supply of cheese, anything that takes these things away from you will feel unfair – so much so that you might even deny the fact that change is happening at all. Hence it’s better to keep your eyes peeled for signs of change in your life and adapt as soon as you can.

Fear is what makes confronting change so difficult. After all, change requires you to cope with a new situation and grapple with a new set of rules. But remember this: as long as you’re afraid of leaving your comfort zone, things will never get better.

Visualizing your goal in vivid detail will actually increase your desire to attain it. So if you find yourself stuck, or you can’t tame your fear, visualize your goal. That will stoke your desire and give you the energy to move forward.

When you move in a new direction, you learn how to better embrace change. If you manage to conquer your fears just once, the next time you’re confronted with change, you’ll have the confidence to move on again.

So to sum up:

Adaptability is all about looking ahead, reading the signs, and using the prevailing winds to chart your course. Once you’ve mastered that art, you can plan ahead and avoid being caught off guard by sudden changes. The most successful companies consistently demonstrate an ability to change with the times, experiment with new solutions and adapt themselves to customers’ changing desires and needs. 

Actionable advice:

Believe in the impossible

How to Survive Change looks at seven truths which states: Change Is the One Thing You Can Count On, It’s Not Personal, Your Thinking Is Not Always Your Friend, Change Isn’t the Enemy, Fear Is, There’s a Predictable Emotional Cycle to Change, You’re More Resilient Than You May Think, Your Future Is Built on Bedrock That Is Unchanging.

And Who Moved My Cheese says to not only cope but thrive in a changing environment, you’ll need to develop the kind of attitude and mind-set that makes adapting to change less frightening and more rewarding.

I am constantly going through changes, whether it is health related, or just dealing with daily emotions that are pandemic related so I definitely need to embrace it.

And before we go, life coach Shanna Lee and author of The Soul Frequency: Your Healthy, Awakened and Authentic Life shared her thoughts with me this week.

And if you enjoyed this, please hit subscribe and find any information about the books today at Www.howtobe247.com.

SHANNA LEE

Published by suswatibasu

Suswati Basu is a writer, journalist, producer and feminist activist residing in London. She has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post and the F-Word blogs, and has worked for various media outlets such as the BBC, Channel 4 and for ITV News/ITN. She currently works as a senior intelligence expert.

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