Throughout human history, adaptability has been a key factor to the survival and success of our species. Today we need to be adaptable in order to navigate the complexities and uncertainties of today’s world.
Adaptability is becoming more important with climate change, because the impacts of climate change are increasingly affecting our ability to live and work in the same way as we have in the past.
Climate change is causing more frequent and severe weather events, rising sea levels, and longer periods of extreme heat or cold, which are impacting our infrastructure, health, and economies.
In short, adaptability was and is essential for survival.
A personal example is when I recently booked my holiday to Crete. I know that Greece is subject to wildfires during summer, so I booked my Airbnb just a footstep from the sea and not up in the beautiful Cretan mountains, reflecting on the risk of being caught in a wildfire.
I grew up in Swedish Lapland, with omnipresent nature. The forest, lakes and mountains were my playground. I strongly believe that a child who spends a lot of time in nature will not harm it.
If we look at regenerative societies, it is an absolute necessity that we need to join forces and collaborate with each other to solve challenges that determine our, and our childrens’ future. We are not hostage to the future, but the authors. We write our future. Hare and Woods write in their book “Survival of the Friendliest” that the two key skills for human survival are communication and collaboration. I would like to add care, creativity and courage.
Let’s look more closely into the concept of adaptability in the context of modern life.
I will explore some of the central ideas. Please join the conversation!
Adapting to new environments: Throughout human history, humans have migrated to new regions in search of resources or to escape environmental pressures. Adapting to these new environments required early humans to develop new skills and to adjust their behaviors and lifestyles to fit the new conditions. We need to think anew, adjust our habits and act in an earth-friendly way in all that we do.
Developing new technologies: From the invention of fire to the agricultural revolution, humans have continuously developed new technologies to improve our chances of survival and to adapt to changing circumstances. These innovations required a willingness to experiment. Technical development is going fast now and we need to invent according to the plea of the earth.
Responding to social and economic changes: Over time, human societies have become more complex and interconnected, and economic systems have evolved to reflect new modes of production and exchange. Adapting to these changes, whether through the development of new institutions or the acquisition of new skills, has been essential for individuals and societies to thrive. There are still a few skills that are innately human: communication, collaboration, courage, creativity and care. We are good at those skills. As tech progresses, let’s be human about it.
Surviving disasters and crises: Natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and conflicts have all posed threats to human survival throughout history. The ability to adapt quickly to these situations, by adjusting behaviors or developing new technologies, has been crucial for communities to recover and rebuild. Think about how fast the global scientific community could put a covid vaccine into place. That is an example of efficient collaboration. Humans are good at collaboration when it really matters, when necessity has it!
Coping with change: Change is inevitable, and those who are adaptable are better able to handle new or unexpected situations. They can quickly assess the situation and adjust their approach to fit the new circumstances. This helps them to avoid becoming overwhelmed and to maintain a sense of calm and purpose. This was true when covid entered our lives. Those who quickly read the situation were also those who looked at the situation as a moment of possibility, a possibility to profound change.
Taking advantage of opportunities: Connecting to the coping of change. Being adaptable allows individuals and organizations to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. They can pivot quickly to capitalize on emerging trends, or adapt models and methods to fit new conditions.
Improving problem-solving: Individuals and organizations that are adaptable are generally better at problem-solving. They can come up with creative and innovative solutions to complex challenges, and are more likely to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. School can be a rigid place. School leadership that really reads the room have the capability to show up in leadership that we need in the times we live in.
Learning and growth: Adaptability also fosters a sense of continuous learning and growth. Those who are willing and able to adapt to new situations are more likely to seek out new experiences and to embrace new ways of doing things. This leads to personal and professional growth.
Protecting health: Climate change is increasing the risk of certain diseases, such as waterborne illnesses and vector-borne diseases, and exposing us to new health risks, such as extreme heat or cold. Adapting to these changes requires developing new public health strategies and improving our ability to respond to health emergencies.
We do need a lot of solution-finders. Are you one?