Things My Dog Taught Me: Be Adaptable


My dog has many things wrong with her physically.  She has had numerous surgeries, injuries, removal of cancerous tumors, and many other physical setbacks.  But she keeps going no matter what.  Why is that?  I believe that it is her high level of adaptability.  Darwin’s use of the term “survival of the fittest” has been misinterpreted by many.  It’s not the strongest who survive.  It’s the ones who can fit into the new situations that arise.  Case in point:  The cockroach versus dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs were certainly the strongest.  But cockroaches are extremely adaptable, and they are the ones who survived.

My dog has learned to adapt to any situation.  After her ACL surgery on her right rear leg, it put pressure on her left rear hip, which is her bad hip.  She adjusted and made that work.  Then, when her right rear leg all but quit working, she adapted again.  Now she puts very little weight on that right back leg and has adapted her gait again.  She keeps adapting to whatever she is given and makes it work.  This is a very valuable lesson for me.  I tend to waste time wanting things to be a certain way.  I want my body to act a certain way.  But as I grow older, my body just doesn’t respond in the same way.  Instead of lamenting that fact, I have learned to be more adaptable and adjust.  I now accept the fact that the recovery time is longer.  I accept the fact that I can’t do things the same way I did them when I was 25.  I accept the fact that I have to adjust.

I work with many technical people with an emotional profile of perfectionism/control (high reality testing and problem solving with low flexibility).  This is very good for the precision required for specifications and carrying out projects.  This profile is not as good for relationships and being adaptable and flexible.  With this profile, there is a tendency to beat yourself up.  As if that weren’t bad enough, the person with this profile also has a hard time delegating.  They tend to get stuck in their careers.  They become workaholics, but are rarely seen as leaders and rarely move up the career ladder.  If you are not naturally flexible, you can work on your flexibility.  Many people in my programs do just that with very good results.  I promise you it will be worth your while.  Flexibility is an asset.

The old Aesop’s fable of the reed and the oak tree certainly applies.  The storm came and the reed bent with the wind.  The oak tree stood his ground and tried to be strong against the wind.  And you know what happened.  If you want to be a survivor and a thriver, learn to be flexible.

The Oak Tree and The Reed by Michallon:

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