How often do you adapt to succeed?

Today is May 21 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you adapt to succeed?” For those trying to accomplish anything in life two important quotes on adapting are “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” by Albert Einstein and “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” by George Bernard Shaw.

In a New York Times editorial by Thomas L. Friedman, he quoted Brian Krzanich, the C.E.O. of Intel, who said: “I believe my grandchildren will not drive.” Friedman noted “Since Krzanich has teenage daughters, that means self-driving vehicles should be fully deployed in 25 years, at which time you won’t ‘steer’ your car but will program it on a smartphone or watch or glasses. Sounds like fun — unless you’re one of the millions who drive a truck or cab for a living.”

Recent research indicates that auto manufacturers, technology companies including Google, and legislators predict that by 2020, self-driving cars will be navigating public roads in countries such as the US, UK and Finland. Most autonomous vehicles will not be owned by individuals but by companies, then rented out to travelers by the hour.

The advancement of technology will impact almost every industry. As Friedman noted “don’t think you’re safe as an accountant, either.” This vision of the future frightens many people for different reasons. Some are concerned about their loss of employment. Fear of the unknown as to what impact new technologies will have in the future is another catalyst for concern. Still others view the future with great excitement and view developments as new opportunities for growth.

To that last point, Friedman wrote “The notion that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge for the next 30 is over. If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner. And that means: More is now on you. And that means self-motivation to learn and keep learning becomes the most important life skill.” British consultant Max McKeown noted "all failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation."

Best-selling author and Dilbert creator Scott Adams understood the value of adapting to succeed. Adams believes that you are what you learn. “If all you know is how to be a gang member, that’s what you’ll be, at least until you learn something else. If you become a marine, you’ll learn to control fear. If you go to law school, you’ll see the world as a competition. If you study engineering, you’ll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking.” Adams wrote “It’s easy to feel trapped in your own life. Circumstances can sometimes feel as if they form a jail around you. But there’s almost nothing you can’t learn your way out of. If you don’t like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You’re free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it.”

Adams should know as he himself learned how to be a cartoonist; something he wanted to do since his childhood. For six years, Adams learned how to balance his day job with the publication of his Dilbert cartoon. From 1989 until 1995, he created Dilbert during mornings, evenings, and weekends while maintaining his full-time job.