“A talent for following the ways of yesterday is not sufficient to improve the world of today. — King Wuling of Zhao
When you habitually surf waves of change as part of your identity, few things really surprise you in the world. But now and then the world throws even the most antifragile person for a loop. Even Superman had kryptonite to knock him down to human now and then.
The thing is we all need to be willing to change, and meet it head-on, in order to fully optimize our lives. But we all get comfortable with being comfortable too. These two opposite states lend themselves to discomfort in the best of situations and emotional distress when we spiral into deep internal conflict over the changes.
Part of being a functional adult is developing adaptability and a willingness to pivot when necessary. Think about all the changes we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Think about how much change we’re going to be faced with for the balance of our lives. Change happens. Our role is to change with change.
When I was a teenager I learned the trade of drafting. To be a draftsman combined a love of architecture and mechanical detail with a love of art and creating something from scratch. The thing is, the trade was dying quickly even as I learned it, moving to CAD and beyond. To have learned such a trade seemed frivolous in hindsight, but I learned much more than how to draw lines on a piece of paper. I find myself still using some of the skills I developed then, like reading a set of blueprints to understand the scope of work needed for a project. Talking with architects and engineers, I find I know their nomenclature and what they need to complete a project. But on the whole, that drafting skillset is dead and gone.
I could mourn the passing of a career path I once coveted, or embrace change and leap from one to the next until I arrive at a place I can add the most value in. Sure enough, that eventually happened, and I continue to build on new skills until one day they too become less relevant and I’m faced with the need to pivot once again. This is the way of the world. The ways of yesterday are not sufficient for us to become what we will be tomorrow. We can never rest on our strengths, but we can use them as a foundation for who we may become next.