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Only The Adaptable Survive: Keys To Success Amidst Chaos

By Terry L. Brock

Yikes! The headlines are scary. The financial melt-down continues as I type this article. You have the advantage from this publication to see what is happening since my original thoughts were penned (okay, typed on my computer). You have access to the latest, cutting edge news and this breaking news, just  information that is spewing out from Blogs, Cable News, podcasts and more.

[Be sure to check out the video below. It is an interview I did with Bill Lampton, PhD about adapting to change in the midst of crises going on in the world.]

Many on Wall Street have suddenly discovered, and soon many on Main Street may soon discover, that the past doesn’t equal the future. Grand and glorious ideas of a new way of doing things which are not embedded in the rock-solid principles that work just seem to fizzle when facing the real world. Doing stupid stuff still doesn’t work, no matter how we dress it up. To borrow from a current theme in politics, lipstick, no matter what color or how pretty, still doesn’t keep the pig from being a pig. Making bad loans to unreliable borrowers is a bad idea no matter how it is dressed up with pretty language.

However, in the midst of this current crisis-of-the-moment, there are some sound principles that will not only help you in this current financial crisis (and it is a doosey!), but into the future as there will be more crises coming. No, I’m not a psychic, but I can predict — with high levels of accuracy — that there will be further crises in the future. Oh, I’m also predicting that Winter will be cold followed by a thawing in the Spring and warm weather next Summer!

But you see, that is just the point. Predictions are easy when you base them on time-honored principles. Sure we don’t know the specifics, but if we can spot the trends and take advantage of these trends, we’ll always do well.

Ken Lewis is CEO of a little country bank. He is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Okay, his little country bank is that of a real country — Ken Lewis is CEO of Bank of America. He followed important principles by stepping up to purchase Merrill Lynch when the crisis offered that opportunity. He adapted to the situation. He seized the day and made the most of what was, and is, a most difficult situation. Some would deride him as an opportunist. Throughout history, many have complained about those who purchased assets when blood is running in the streets as being ruthless and cold-hearted.

I would say this is just following key principles that work. Many millions were made in the Great Depression in the 1930’s as assets plummeted in value. Those who stepped in and wisely made purchases of value were able to realize great profits later. Successful people focus on the long-term and how to create value. This works in any market. Focus your attention on how to create value for others and you’ll do remarkably well in any market.

This past weekend I read Herbert Spencer’s classic, The Man Versus the State. He raised many good points about the encroaching power of government to squelch individual initiative and growth. The principles he cited in the 19th Century continue to resonate today. He was the person to coin the phrase, Survival of the Fittest. He was paraphrasing Charles Darwin’s work. I find it intriguing to think about that as well as what Darwin originally said,

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

These words were never more true than today. The world is different today. We have to prepare ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually to adapt to the new environment.

Of course, this has always and will always be true. Prepare yourself mentally by studying and learning. Even more important, learn to unlearn. Learn to get rid of what doesn’t work. Feed your mind with good quality, timeless information. Yes, the crisis of the moment and This breaking news just gets our immediate attention. However, what matters long-term is the rock-solid principles of creating value, helping others meet their needs and doing what is right. At any given moment, it could appear that the laws have changed. But rest assured that as we lock into time-honored principles we succeed. Build your own future on a solid foundation.

In the midst of locking into solid value, we must remain flexible to adapt. Learn new technologies. Learn new procedures. Adapt your tactics to fit new realities. Thomas Jefferson said it well, In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

In the field of technology, we see Microsoft fading and not as important as it once was. Google and Apple are the current rising stars. A new way of dealing with technology is upon us. However, this too, will change. Lock into serving customers and helping them with practical technology and you’ll go far.

Read the classics. Understand the time-honored principles, which help us to be more adaptable — whatever is coming. Great minds have gone before us and faced their own crises. Some succeeded. Some did not. Learn what worked and adapt to today’s environment. True, the past does not equal the future. At the same time, key principles remain and will always be true.

Napoleon Hill told us long ago that each failure or setback carries with it the seeds for even greater rewards and benefits in the future. Look for the opportunities amidst the calamities we hear on TV. Consider turning off the TV and reading some good books instead. You’ll gain more relevant knowledge — and your doctor will probably be pleased with your dropping blood pressure!

This would be an excellent way to adapt in the midst of the current crisis.

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at [email protected] or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.

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