Adapting to the Times

Adaptation is one of the great human superpowers.  Everything else on this planet survives off of instinct by design.

Humans, on the other hand, have the fortunate circumstance to leverage three distinct features of our development –  instinct, intuition, and ingenuity. Because of this powerful combination, we have the ability to adapt to situations and circumstances like no other creature on the planet. What’s more, as we build up our experience goldmine we improve in our adaptation capability.

This is why I say that adaptation is a human superpower. There are two types of adaptation that are keen in these times. The first being grit and the second being resilience. Let’s take a look at each:

Grit:

Grit is a powerful adaptation. It allows us to persevere in the midst of a challenge. You’ve heard before that to grit means to be mentally tough in the face of adversity. And as true as that may be, it is not about simply turning on a light switch. It is more about:

  1. Determining what is important and keeping that goal in front of you. It becomes the light at the end of the tunnel that you strive towards.
  2. Establishing daily wins toward the realization of that goal
  3. And building the habits, inspirations, and motivations to keep you going no matter what.

Grit is about driving towards the realization of a passion that you hold dear. In this case, passion serves two functions – it is the goal and the fuel to realize the goal.

Grit is the adaptation to survive the challenges on the road to realizing your goals. In this time of global response to a pandemic, we can all use the characteristic of grit to courageously overcome the challenge on our path so that we can realize our goals.

Yet, as you can imagine, this can only be done for a period of time. Grit isn’t, in my humble opinion, a sustainable psychological state. It is great and useful when we understand what the end goal looks like however in these times where the end goal is so fluid, and the complexity that we must deal with is overwhelming, we must rely on a different adaptation.

Resilience:

Resilience is purpose-built for times like these and frankly every other adversity that we undergo as part of the human experience. Resilience is the capacity for a successful adaptation in the face of stress, challenge, and adversity. In this distinction of successful, we come to understand that there are unsuccessful ways to deal with the challenges of life. If we accomplish the goal while tearing down our relationships and destroying our physical health and mental wellbeing, the goal will be met but the life around it will be in shambles.

Resilience is the adaptation built for thriving through and well beyond the challenging circumstances that we find ourselves in. To accomplish this we must understand the 5 parts of resilience.

  1. Positive Emotions: This isn’t an unrealistic, falsely joyful view of emotions. Rather this is a grounding of the emotions that result in a positive mood, recall of positive memories, and embodiment of positive feelings. Positive emotions are a choice chosen in the moment of difficulty where the emotions provide the grounding to the next response. If you’ve lost someone to COVID-19 or you feel isolated as a result of social distancing, know that it is okay and healthy to deal with the emotion that is coming up for you. Allow it to rise and process through it. Once you’ve successfully dealt with that emotion, realign to the emotions that ground you and helps you move forward such joy, gratitude, serenity, hope, pride, laughter, inspiration, and love.
  2. Social Support: We are social creatures. In these times it is even more important to rely on your support system to speak about the difficulty you are facing. This support system is essential in providing encouragement, guidance, and comfort.
  3. Meaning: Sometimes it is difficult to make sense of the crazy things in this world. Yet, this is an outsider looking in perspective. The opposite, an inside looking out, establishes that our lives are purposeful and seeks to determine how our purpose can be applied to the world.
  4. Coping: We all have our unique makeup of how we cope with distressing situations. In a resilience construct, we must employ productive and empowering coping mechanisms to manage our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
  5. Physical well-being: This plays a significant part in our mental well-being. Consistent physical exercise, healthy eating habits, and sufficient sleep shape our mood, ability to handle stress, motivations, and overall mental well-being.

As we seek to adapt to the times, we must employ attributes that we may not have relied on before. Grit and resilience are such attributes that are fit for these days. Grit enables us to adapt to survive the challenge while resilience empowers us to thrive through and beyond the challenges we face.

None of the adversity, stress, or challenges we face in life comes easy yet we have a choice in how we deal with it. In that choice, we are either liberated or encaged. We are either empowered by our exploration into the difficult and unknown or disempowered by negative coping mechanisms and limiting beliefs of what is possible. All choice is ours. What will you choose today?

Coaches and Educators:

Grit and Resilience are essential instructional points for your clients and students. This provides the foundation for them to build on. Utilize this article or others to engage with your clients and students in building their grit and resilience capacities and understanding the difference between the two.