There is a profound difference between conformity and adaptability. Conformity is the negative quality of blending in and becoming average, refusing to stand out or to capitalize on one’s uniqueness; adaptability is the positive quality of being able to sense the shift in wind direction and proactively adjusting one’s course to take advantage of that wind shift. While conformity is a weakness that is based on fear of rejection, adaptability is a strength that is based on confidence in oneself and in one’s own judgment and abilities.
The real key to adaptability is one’s willingness to change. Great achievers understand that change is inevitable, and they realize that a person’s capacity to accept change is a key element of growth and success. They also realize that the world isn’t standing still, and that they can’t stand still either. They have to be able to change or be swept away in a tidal wave of change as it inevitably sweeps across the landscape.
Your current condition is not permanent. There are “seasons” in life, just as there are seasons in nature. Back in 1965, The Byrds recorded a best-selling song that was written by Pete Seeger and based on the writings of King Solomon in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. The song, Turn, Turn, Turn, quotes a lot of the observations of Solomon, including his well-known observation that “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, KJV). So the smartest man who ever lived, a man of great achievement, observed that the things of life change. They wax and wane. They move. And life seems to come in “seasons.” Solomon was saying, in effect, that happy and successful people need to understand this reality of living in the world, and they need to get with it. To resist change is to resist reality. To resist change is to invite utter disappointment, heartache, and failure.
Nothing in this life will last forever, and I guess this truth can be viewed as both an encouraging and a discouraging reality. While the storms of life are destined to move on, so are the beautiful things of life. But this is the way life is, and successful people recognize this fact, rather than resisting it. The wise people of this world embrace this reality, rather than rejecting it. So the primary truth that I want to convey here is the truth that change is inevitable, but it is possible to be happy in the midst of change and even to utilize change to one’s advantage.
The faster you can turn loose of what used to work and embrace what’s working now, the sooner you can enjoy where you are and where you are going with your life. The faster you can embrace the benefits of change and the positive aspects of growth, the sooner you can begin to enjoy your journey from today to tomorrow. Learn to celebrate change. If you can, you will be healthier, happier, and far more relevant. If you can, you will be able to appreciate the accomplishments you have made to date while anticipating greater achievements in the days ahead.
John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” When change occurs, you have two choices. You can cooperate with change or you can resist it. You can embrace it or you can fight it. You can learn to recognize the benefits of change and view change as an opportunity for growth and new experiences, or you can denounce change as the work of the devil and dig your heels in as you rapidly become the latest species of dinosaur to become extinct. The choice is yours. But people of greatness have learned to embrace change wholeheartedly. In fact, they see change as an ally, not a foe. They view it as a friend, not an enemy. They look at change through their paradigm of optimism and see it as a catalyst for growth and as a launching pad for greater success. They don’t see it as a threat or a challenge; they view it as a healthy opportunity to go where they’ve never been before.
Steve Jobs didn’t become one of the world’s great entrepreneurs by resisting change. In fact, he was one of the driving forces of change in recent times. History will attribute to him many of the great technological changes of the 20th and 21st centuries. Steve Jobs believed that change was not an optional thing. We cannot take a vote to decide as a society whether we want change, and we cannot opt out of change as individuals. Change is coming to our world each and every day, typically in small, bite-sized pieces. Nevertheless, it is coming, and it is coming steadily and persistently through technology and every other imaginable means.
The world is changing and will continue to change faster than ever. But as you grow older and wiser, you can either live a life of frustration and mediocrity by resisting those changes that are taking place all around you. Or you can embrace the reality of change and seize every positive change in your world as an opportunity to advance your own life and dreams. Don’t become a Model T at the Indianapolis 500. The sheer speed of worldwide innovation will literally blow you off the track if you allow it to pass you by. It will leave you in the dust of antiquity. But if you will make up your mind that change can be a positive thing for you and your world, you can capitalize upon it and allow it to become your springboard to a greater and more fulfilling life.