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February 19, 2017

Survival of the…. Responsive

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
(Charles Darwin)


It’s amazing how some popular quotes we all say are actually misquotes. Take this statement from the Christian New Testament: “Money is the root of all evil.” Actually, money is not the bad guy. What 1 Timothy 6:10 really tells us is this: “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

Similarly, Darwin never said anything about evolution being about the “survival of the fittest.” It’s a popular notion, however, used to elevate brute strength as the greatest of all attributes. “Only the strong survive” is another form of this idea. Fortunately, it’s simply not true. Brute strength can be an asset, whether physical or mental, but it is not the critical ingredient needed to last, and persevere, through time. (If it were, the dinosaurs would’ve surely made it).

No, what Darwin brilliantly observed is this: the species that survive the longest are the ones who evolve to fit their ever-changing environment. Therefore, it’s always been survival of the…most adaptable. Survival of the… most responsive. Survival of the…most willing to let go of the old and adjust to the new.

Think how this applies to life transitions we all face:

  • When our little kids start becoming big teenagers, for instance, the parents who survive are the ones most adaptable to this change. These are the ones choosing to let go of the instinct to always protect and control, and choose instead to prepare and influence.
  • When our bodies start to require less calories, and more recovery time, those who survive are the ones able to respond with moderation, instead of reacting with stubborn old habits.
  • When our spouses naturally change their preferences, ideas, or commitments, the marriages that survive are the ones capable of evolving away from old things “in common” toward a greater respect for individual expression.

How are you reactively resisting a natural change in your life right now? How could you respond, and adapt, instead?

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