Adapt or Die

Your ability to survive is correlated with your ability to adapt to your environment.

No matter what happens, it's clear that there's one tactic that will guarantee you end up as cannon fodder in this economic battlefield: staying put.

The problem now is not such much the rate of change, but the rapidly changing rate of change. Volatility can go from insane to nonexistent, then back again, so fast that you have no idea what's going on.

In a situation like this, it may feel impossible to adapt. In some sense, there's truth to that idea: you can't adapt to every little change that comes your way, nor should you try to. There's no way you can keep up with the daily shift in trends, but you can do a better job of spotting (and adapting to) the larger patterns around you.

People just largely don't want to do it. It's a natural human impulse to resist change and continue to act as if the world will stay the same for the foreseeable future. Our brains much prefer this stable illusion over the unstable, chaotic reality we live within. Adaptation is also energy-intensive, and it's normal to resist anything that demands energy from your body and/or brain.

Many people also just flat out don't have the energy to dedicate to adaptation after working multiple full-time jobs, raising children, and so on. Those people deserve more help than someone like me can provide—it's not appropriate to hold their lack of adaptation against them.

For those who aren't drowning in their day-to-day lives, it's up to you to use your resources to understand and respond to your environment. As someone who has spent far too much time reading and writing in isolation, I can tell you right now that, above all else, you must make contact with the world.

Go Outside

This is what most people miss about the adaptation process: in a world dominated by data-hungry AI algorithms, going out into the world is a great way to develop an advantage. It's so easy to isolate yourself and think you can keyboard warrior your way to success online, but guess what? There are a billion other people on the planet who have the exact same idea.

Do you have the drive and energy of a Pakistani teenager who lives with the specter of poverty hanging over them every day? Are you willing to do work for the same amount of money when you have a cost of living that's exponentially higher? These are the economic questions that will get even more intense as cheap overseas labor gets replaced by AI.

The answer is to go places and do things where these dynamics don't matter. One of the best decisions you can make is to stop staring at a screen all the time and go build an in-person network. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you step outside, into a world where algorithms can't see the data you're gathering!

For example, many people struggle to get jobs because they spend all their time applying on sites like LinkedIn. The problem is that these processes are highly automated, recruiters have hundreds of applicants to sort through, and the only people who make it through are the proverbial 1% of candidates.

It's a far more effective method to meet people in person, ask lots of questions, and talk your way into a job or partnership. You might not even be the best person for the job—but that doesn't matter when you aren't being compared to a gigantic pool of candidates! If the CEO thinks you're a cool person, that can override many of the data-driven, algorithmic processes which might have hindered you before.

This is just one example, but it's a form of adaptation. The job market has shifted dramatically, to the point where clicking "Apply" over and over again just won't cut it. An adaptive mindset looks at these kinds of problems and recognizes a separate way, which is often simpler and more effective. More than anything, don't just do what everyone else is doing—if an adaptation becomes too widespread, it's worth questioning its value.

Note: I have another book which goes much further into detail about adaptation and how to use it to solve problems in complex environments. It's called Strategic Complexity, and if you've enjoyed this book, you'll benefit from that one as well.

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