Monday, April 22, 2024
49.0°F

Time to make a change

by HARVEY MACKAY
| March 17, 2024 1:00 AM

Aesop wrote a fable about a proud oak tree that took root along the bank of a stream. For 100 years it had withstood the high winds, until one day a violent storm arose. The great oak fell with a mighty crash into the swollen river and was carried down toward the sea.

The oak tree came to rest on the shore where some reeds were growing. The tree was amazed to see the reeds standing upright.

The oak asked, "How ever did you manage to weather that terrible storm? I have stood up against many a storm, but this one was too strong for me."

"That's just it," replied the reed. "All these years you have stubbornly pitted your great strength against the wind. You were too proud to yield a little. I, on the other hand, knowing my weakness, just bend and let the wind blow over me without trying to resist it. The harder the wind blows, the more I humble myself, so here I am!"

Adaptability is absolutely vital in business. The marketplace is like a river, constantly flowing and changing its course. To navigate these waters successfully, you must be able to adjust your sails and steer with agility — and stand up to a little wind.

Jim Rohn, the late American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, said, "Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change." 

The pace of change in technology, consumer preferences and global economics means that what worked yesterday might not work today. Being adaptable allows you to respond quickly to changes, keeping your business relevant and competitive.

Companies are moving away from rigid hierarchical structures to more fluid and dynamic models. Adaptability in this context means being comfortable with change, whether it is a shift in your role, team or the overall strategy of the company.

The ability to work well with others, often in a team environment, is more important than ever. Adaptability enhances collaboration because it allows you to understand and embrace different perspectives and work styles.

Today's business problems are multifaceted, requiring a broad range of skills and the ability to connect disparate pieces of information. An adaptable mindset is open to learning and can integrate new knowledge to solve these complex challenges.

Adaptability is not just a nice-to-have trait; it is a must-have. It is about being prepared to pivot when necessary, to learn from new situations and to continually evolve your approach to business. It is about thriving in uncertainty and turning challenges into opportunities.

The only thing constant in life is change. It is up to you to be adaptable and willing to change. When something goes wrong in your life, just say "Plot twist," and move on.

One of the best books that I have ever read on adaptability is the shortest and simplest. "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson is a charming parable with profound insights. Fundamentally, no matter who you are, you don't like change. Some of us cope with it fairly well, but the truth is that we all wish we didn't have to undergo change.

The four characters in the book are Sniff and Scurry, two mice in a maze, and Hem and Haw, the two human characters who are the size of the mice and are called little people. Every day they go to Cheese Station C, and everything they need is right there in whatever quantity they want.

Then one day they go to Cheese Station C and the endless supply of cheese is gone. Sniff and Scurry react quickly and instinctively. They know they must find a new supply of cheese. Not so for Hem and Haw. They continue their old routine. They are afraid to venture forth in the maze and find a new source of cheese.

Haw finally realizes he must overcome his fears and writes on the wall, "If you do not change, you can become extinct." Haw sets off in the maze and after much trial and error, finds new cheese that is even better. 

Mackay's Moral: In the business world, the rearview is always clearer than the windshield, but adaptability is the key to driving forward.

• • •

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website, www.harveymackay.com, by emailing harvey@mackay.com or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.