Training like tardigrades
If I were to ask you which animal best represents success and achievement, many of you would probably think of powerful roaring lions, majestic tigers, sharp-eyed eagles…
But I would suggest instead taking out a microscope and looking better.
There it is, the Tardigrade!
Tardigrades are near-microscopic aquatic animals with a very cute funny look and a very special super-power: they are nearly indestructible and can even survive in extreme conditions that would kill most other forms of life.
Researchers have found that they can withstand temperatures from -200° to 148° Celsius, can survive exposure to radiation and boiling liquids, and be found alive from the deepest part of the ocean, up to outer space!
If this wasn’t enough, just know that tardigrades have survived all five mass extinctions on Earth, and researchers believe they could survive after humanity is long gone.
Sorry lions and eagles, you have to leave the podium to someone else, a lot smaller than you!
But… this is not National Geographic, why am I writing about tardigrades?
Well, I think these tiny creatures have a powerful lesson to teach us:
We often associate success, for Corporations as well as for individuals, with being “big” or sitting “high”: large market share, high revenues, high-rank positions…
But if we stop for a minute and think about it… how many examples of large important companies failing big have we heard of? Blockbuster, Polaroid, Pan Am, to name just a few… And just the same goes for individuals.
When we adopt a longer-term perspective, I believe we can measure the chances of success far better if we consider Adaptability instead.
Our ability to learn and unlearn, to deal with the inevitable uncertainty and change in our professional as well as private life, to search for meaning with a curious and open mind, to examine the assumptions that lay behind our actions, is what can really influence our chances to succeed not only in the short but also in the longer term.
What I often hear from my coachees is a belief that we are somehow born with a certain Adaptability Quotient, and we cannot do much about it.
But I'd like to challenge you to look at it differently: let’s think of Adaptability as a muscle.
I might have inherited a larger or smaller muscular mass, but what really makes the difference is how much and how well I train.
So, let’s be intentional in finding ways to challenge ourselves and train our adaptability muscle!
Photo credit BBC Nature