Adaptation
Mastering The Art of Change

Tom Morris

We?re living now in a period of widespread, unsettling change and growing economic uncertainty. Every day seems to bring with it a new cause for anxiety. It?s easy to worry about the future. But the great philosophers of the past have recommended something very different from that reaction: the positive response of creative adaptation.

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A situation becomes favorable only when we adapt to it.
The I Ching

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One of the primary sources of power in life is the skill of adaptation. It?s also one of the most important contributors to long-term success. As someone who has studied for decades the wisdom of the ages on all aspects of personal achievement, I?ve come to understand something very important. Our ability to flex appropriately with changing circumstances, and our knack for transforming our circumstances in accordance with our own highest aspirations, are two distinct sides of adaptation. And they are both absolutely necessary for attaining business and personal excellence in times of change.

The good news is that there is an art of change that will give us the crucial inner keys for masterful adaptation. A consistent practice of this art can generate amazing results.

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What in the whole universe is more natural than change?
Marcus Aurelius

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The art of change, as understood by its masters, consists of three component arts:

(1) The art of self-control
(2) The art of positive action
(3) The art of achievement

Each of these component arts has a few simple rules that can be derived from the deepest practical wisdom of the great thinkers. Let?s take just a minute to consider them.

The art of self-control has three basic requirements:

1. Don?t rush to judgment. Many ancient philosophers believed that nothing is as good as it seems or as bad as it seems, so we should all just calm down. Complex situations are hardly ever what they initially appear to be. And in turbulent times, the well-known category, ?A Blessing in Disguise? may have a lot of potential applications. When we stop ourselves from rushing to judgment about new developments, we empower ourselves to deal with them as they really are.

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Things often love to conceal their true nature.
Heraclitus

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2. Value the right things. We tend to value comfort and security a bit too highly in our culture. Growth and learning are also crucial for a good life. If we value the right things to the right degree, we are more open to the positive adventures that even initially difficult change can bring into our lives.

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Only in growth, reform, and change,
paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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3. Use your imagination well. In economically unpredictable times, our imaginations can easily run wild, projecting worst-case scenarios, and taking our emotions to places we don?t need to go. The only reliable cure for negative imagination is positive imagination. When we use our minds to project desirable scenarios, we actually strengthen our ability to make those things happen.

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You can?t depend on your judgment
when your imagination is out of focus.
Mark Twain

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The art of positive action also has three fundamental requirements:

1. Govern your attitudes. Negative attitudes can sneak up on us and hold us back. The good news about attitude is that it?s ultimately within our control. We can choose to consider the positive possibilities of a situation, or to forgive a person who may have tripped us up. We can also take measures ? such as daily walking, jogging, or meditation ? that can indirectly but almost magically transform our attitudes. Good attitudes can lead to great outcomes.

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With our thoughts, we make the world.
The Buddha

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2. Look for opportunities. The churn of change always creates new opportunities. The most successful people actively look for emerging opportunities in times of change, and so are among the first to take advantage of possibilities that didn?t previously exist. In every challenging era, some people grow and benefit. By always searching for new opportunities, we can be among those people.

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Know your opportunity.
Pittacus

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3. Take the initiative. In uncertain times, people hunker down, hoping the storms will pass. A common trait of high achievers is a very different tendency to take action. By being action-oriented, we can make the most of new opportunities, which are often fleeting and must be seized quickly. Leaders always show initiative. In situations of rapid change, it?s up to each of us to do so.

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In the arena of human life, the honors and rewards
fall to those who show their good qualities in action.
Aristotle

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Finally, the art of achievement requires that we focus our energies toward favorable outcomes by living in accordance with seven universal conditions for positive achievement. In times of change, we need to use ?The 7 Cs of Success? constantly and relentlessly, as individuals and as teams. We need:

C1: A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.

Goal setting is often tough in the whirl of rapidly altering events, but it?s always important. A disciplined use of our intellects and imaginations to envision new targets adapted appropriately to the vicissitudes of our day will enable us to move forward productively as great problem solvers and creative examples to others.

C2: A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain our goal.

In situations of tremendous change, the first thing most people lose is their inner sense of confidence. Confidence is an attitude and, as such, is within our control. We can boost it by how we think, talk, and act. And we owe it to ourselves, as well as to those around us, to do exactly this, since confidence is contagious and can drive success in surprising ways.

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Fortune favors the brave.
Terence

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C3: A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.

We need to focus and refocus ourselves in times of upheaval, and concentrate our thought and energy on what?s required each day for the outcomes we seek.

C4: A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.

Consistency doesn?t mean doing things the way we?ve always done them, but keeping our actions in line with our highest goals and deepest values. The most powerful adaptation requires this kind of consistency as we adjust to new realities.

C5: An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we?re doing.

Passion fuels excellence. Without an emotional commitment to our work, and to the people around us, we can easily find that unexpected change saps our strength. A commitment of the heart energizes us all to do great things in new ways.

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It is always the adventurers who accomplish great things.
Montesquieu

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C6: A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.

Change often calls for compromise, but never for a compromise of character. The stronger your character is, the better you?ll weather any storm. Integrity matters.

C7: A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.

If we can laugh at the absurdities life often throws at us, and find aspects of our work to enjoy during even trying times, we can achieve creative, lasting results.

By practicing the overall art of change each day ? following the simple requirements of self-control, positive action, and ongoing achievement ? we can position ourselves to make the most of any change that comes our way. We can be masters of adaptation.

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Man has unrivalled powers of self-adaptation
. Charles Kingsley

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The wisdom of the past can guide us reliably into the future. If we use it every day, we can best live the adventures we?re here in this world to have, and we can attain forms of success that will sometimes surprise us even more than it bewilders our neighbors.

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