Adapt or Die

How we deal with change will greatly influence the success of our endeavours.  Despite that obvious fact few of us know how to deal with change.  We must learn or suffer costs and consequences.

Where should we start?

As with all problems it serves us well to define it. Learn to ask yourself not what am I, but rather what am I becoming?  Once we recognize the becoming part we can work at the opportunity.

We must learn new methods, devise new goals and implement in unfamiliar ways.  Being capable in the past says little about capability in the future.  We must recognize change to be an item we can address.  Being able to change your mind is a big part of learning.

Those who change will inherit the earth.  Those who do not will be as an alien. Out of place. Not of this world.

Change takes a long time.  Most social changes take about three decades to become commonplace.  Much the same time for technology to go from proof of concept to product.  If you want to have a guess about 2026, take a look at 1996 and look for what were new social movements or fresh out of the lab discoveries.

Some quibble about the 30 years for technology.  It might be shortening a little, but the internet was created in the late 60s and the cell phone theory about the same time.  Integrated circuits moved forward quicker, but in many ways, they were just a reconfiguration of what existed.

We have biases and limitations that will change.  Experience is wonderful except it is not of perpetual value.  Experience has a half life.  Old experience may be harmful because it does not admit the existence of different ways of applying knowledge.  J. Paul Getty has suggested, “In times of great change, experience will be your worst enemy.”  Not encouraging given the price to obtain it.

What is investment experience worth?  It depends on what you mean by experience.  If it includes the ability to manage your emotions, then it may be enduring.  If it means knowledge of a particular form of investment or the application of some heuristic, likely not. Long bull markets tend to disguise the underlying elements so that change comes as a surprise.  Benjamin Graham noticed this 80 years ago.  “In a roaring bull market, knowledge is superfluous and experience is a handicap”  When the markets revert, each of us will be able to see what went wrong with our tactics, and that may be useful experience to carry forward.

Be less than confident in your ability to adapt to change.  Knowledge is not enough.  Previous success in times of change says little about how you will adapt in the future.  Change is dynamic.  Change changes.  Again, old experience may be harmful.

I have a client who has, on the wall across from his desk, a large poster of a dinosaur leisurely eating vegetation in a swamp.  The caption, “Adapt or Die”

Good advice and motivating, too.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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