- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated adaptation.
And I don’t know who reads those short introductions I write in the header but today’s is rather bold and probably not true.
All week, I noticed adaptive and maladaptive “coping mechanisms”. And I contemplated that idea that we’re all doing the best we can. And in my counseling session this week, I contemplated what to do when I notice that people in leadership or helping positions are clearly not doing the best they can — or, if they truly are doing their best, how to remove them from their position when their best does not fit the position they hold.
And that was a challenging thing to contemplate with kindness.
But it’s what held me at the idea of adaptation. If we’re in a toxic sludge (and I am not saying we are) should we adapt to our environment or leave?
Adaptation seems to be, to a substantial extent, a process of reallocating your attention. — Daniel Kahneman
As a consequence, geneticists described evolution simply as a change in gene frequencies in populations, totally ignoring the fact that evolution consists of the two simultaneous but quite separate phenomena of adaptation and diversification. — Ernst Mayr
Give up the thought that you have control. You don’t. The best you can do is adapt, anticipate, be flexible, sense the environment and respond. — Frances Arnold
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ― George Bernard Shaw
So, as I contemplated adaptation, my mind went from economics to biology, to psychology.
None of which I am adept at, only extremely curious. :)
I came to this idea as the basis of a prompt: You know that toxic sludge eating bacteria
? Not only did it adapt, not by becoming toxic but by literally using that toxic sludge as nutrition and in the process transmuting it into something non-toxic — but also, that bacteria is now being used beneficially to transform toxic crap at scale. <= My paraphrase.
Can we turn our attention (as Kahneman suggests) to the idea of transforming our environment as we adapt? I think the clue is in Frances Arnold’s quote above to “respond”. When we respond to our environment, we might adapt in a way that preserves diversification as we change.
It’s a big ask this week.
As usual, use this prompt in any way that works for you: write, chat with a friend, paint, craft, dance, sing — use it in whatever way suits you.
What do you need in order to turn your attention and respond to your environment in the most pro-adaptive way?
Lightly notice the toxic sludge in your life :) When you come upon it, notice it. Reallocate your attention so that you are noticing, not reacting to it.
Try (oh, this is so challenging for me) to stay flexible and respond, not react.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
I would ask this week two deeper challenges. I’m assuming you have something in your life that you consider “toxic sludge”
Genuinely contemplate your toxic sludge — is your current response pro-adaptive or mal-adaptive? Does it make you stronger or weaker? Does it nourish you or hurt you?