In the remote caves of the Rio Grande, there is a species of tetra fish that are blind. In fact, they don’t even have eyes.
But they weren’t always eyeless. Thousands of years of evolution led to the point where they no longer have eyes. In the dark caves where they live, in the absence of light, they were forced to learn to rely on other senses. And with food scarce, being efficient was a matter of survival. So rather than waste the energy it takes to have “eyes”, these fish evolved to maximizing their ability to survive on limited resources.
In her book “The Customer of the Future”, Blake Morgan writes about these fish and the importance of our ability to adapt.
But humans are notoriously change resistant. In fact, in many ways we’re wired from nature to resist change. This phenomenon is found in our physiology (“Homeostasis”) and even in the way we respond to exercise (Muscle growth happens because the body wants it to be easy to do the movement). I go through this with my mother-in-law every time an app updates on her phone!
Here’s 4 things that we can do to maximize our ability to change.
- Attitude – Start with an open mind. If something is different consider how it could be better first instead of feeling frustrated that you have to learn something new.
- Keep the end in mind – If you’re on a track for continuous improvement, then you know that change has to happen for progress to happen. Changing technology, process or line ups can often create a spark that leads to something great.
- Revel in the journey – There is no destination, at least not a permanent one. Embrace this idea instead of grinding against it. You wouldn’t deliberately swim against the current in a river so why do the mental equivalent when faced with it?
- Understand the Obstacle – Ryan Holiday’s “The Obstacle is the Way” explains this so well but the gist of it is this: Often that thing that’s new that we think is in our way is actually the challenge we needed to get to something bigger and better. The Tetra fish didn’t sweat the lack of light in the caves, they just got rid of their eyes they no longer needed.
Naturally some things change for the worse and not every change is good. Progress isn’t a straight line up but a jagged line with downs too. But most of us don’t struggle with recognizing a bad move, we struggle with open mindedness needed to do things differently than the way we always have.
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one more responsive to change. – Charles Darwin