Failure to Adapt

Two (2) popular metaphors or heuristics in adaptability are: flexibility and ability to change course.
"Those who are adaptable may or may not adapt. The whole premise is based on prejudice. From whose point of view do we decide who is and is not adaptable and compared to what? It is in the eye of the observer..." -- Peter Bednar 
A prerequisite to being adaptable is having awareness. People who are described as being adaptable or adaptive must have a sense of what's going on around them.

But it's not good enough to just be observant. You must actually be able to understand the contextual significance (or insignificance!) of what you observe. How does it confirm? How does it impact this or that? How might this influence something down the road? Am I on the right course to maintain my purpose or goal? What adjustments should I make?

And those adjustments are usually described in terms of flexing. Or shifting. Or absorbing. Or maneuvering. Or changing. Or growing. Or evolving. Or turning.

We see those who plow straight ahead as being inflexible, closed-minded, ignorant, oblivious, or not adaptable.

But what if that actor who continues down the same path is doing so with great attention, great awareness, great sense of intention?

What if the adaptation is not a turn...but rather an increase or acceleration in velocity, magnitude, or intensity?

Is that not being adaptable?

To the outsider observer, it may appear to be an inflexibility. It's similar to a perceived indecisiveness in others that I've discussed. We may never know for sure if that actor was being reluctant or exercising restraint. The same can be said for perceived stability, control, or inaction.

Who gets to apply that adaptable label to another or self?

And based on what set of criteria?

We all perpetually adapt. I'm not sure if we ever get the choice to not. In one (1) sense, every decision is an adaption. Not all decisions or actions are so obvious.


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a criminal investigations & intelligence unit supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. With a passion for training, he studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedInHe also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model.


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