The art of adapting
Every experience you’ve had molds your ability to adapt, whether you like it or not, and the art of adapting is key to moving forward in life.
Just like plenty of complicated things in life, such as writing, drawing, dancing, and sports, there is an art to adapting. You don’t just wake up with the ability to adapt. Adaptation is not innate; it’s not hereditary; it’s built and forged through fire. By fire, I mean less than ideal circumstances. We’ve all had obstacles appear along our planned out route because a pothole will show up sooner or later. Yet, it’s the ability to pivot that separates you. I don’t mean your capacity to maneuver the vehicle within a timely manner; that way, you don’t hit the hole. Since, inevitably, you’ll hit one no matter how quick your reactions are. Rather, I mean your capacity to adapt once you’ve hit it. Let’s say you do, and your tire pops; what do you do?
Simple answer, I know. You either replace the tire yourself because you know how to change one or call your insurance company to send someone out to do it for you. Well, the simple answer isn’t always so simple, is it? People often make matters worse than they are. They feel when something happens out of the ordinary that they didn’t plan, typically out of their control, the world is ending. I’ve felt like this plenty of times; we all have. But I’ve come to know no matter how much I thoroughly anticipate life’s pitfalls, there will always be unavoidable ones I don’t see coming. That is what life and the unpredictability of it brings.
You see, with each of the inescapable challenges you never see coming, life brings a lesson. There is an opportunity to be ceased if you so choose to view it in that light. Typically, this is the most complicated hindrance for people. Rather than viewing a roadblock as a possible teaching moment for themselves, many choose to see it as something they could have avoided in the first place. As long as this earth has spun on its axis, and as long as it does, there will be problems you can’t predict. After all, it’s where the art of adapting originates. To adapt is to take your current conditions and make them suitable for the present and future. Adaptation is a never-ending component of life.
Often, adaptation requires going against the status quo in order not to become stagnant. For instance, let’s look at Netflix, the giant movie, and television streaming conglomerate. The year is 2000, and Blockbuster is at the height of its peak, generating 6 billion dollars a year with over 9,000 stores worldwide. Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, made a pitch to the Blockbuster CEO, allowing Blockbuster to acquire Netflix, so long as Hastings could help run the website and online movie sales for Blockbuster. The Blockbuster CEO denied the request, and 10 years later, they filed for bankruptcy. Now, a lot happened over those 10 years, but the downfall of Blockbuster started with the company’s leadership not peeking into the future through constant innovation.
Netflix did not just successfully pivot, considering they were much smaller than Blockbuster at the time; they surpassed and created a new industry entirely due to their culture and an ever-changing clientele. Netflix endured it’s time as Blockbuster’s little brother and weathered the storm. How? Through forward-thinking, ingenuity, and company culture. Netflix started as a DVD by mail subscription service, then began streaming, started licensing original content from other studios, and eventually produced its own movies and television shows. Netflix answered the call each time they dealt with industry shifts of immense proportions.
Each time Netflix faced an unavoidable pitfall, they adapted. Most often, what successful adapters do is use their past experiences as a lesson learned to react more effectively in the present, and ultimately, embrace the future, hence it being an art form. As Netflix’s consumers evolved, so did they. They did so by instilling an incredible company culture of freedom and transparency. However, that company culture stemmed from dealing with and going through challenges every organization faces.
The evolution of Netflix didn’t happen overnight, and the same rings true for their ability to adapt. As you go through life, you navigate experience after experience, and each one of them is truly unique. Yet, deep within the context of each of those experiences typically lies a lesson or something to be gained. Whether that’s a virtue like patience or a skill such as critical thinking, either way, the art of adapting is monumental to progressing in life.