Adapt, Improvise, Overcome: A simple three step process for becoming a better human, one who can deal with problems more effectively and lead others to do the same.
Three words, when used together, create a super powerful guide to beating insurmountable odds, the greatest challenges and the most intimidating obstacles.
I learned this practice while in the Army. Back in those days, the Army motto was "be all you can be"... live to your fullest potential. It meant doing the hard stuff.
That hard stuff was leaving about 50 pounds of fat on the gym floor. I had to sweat it out. My life was no longer after school snacks, homework and TV… It was push ups, sit ups, and lots of cardio. It was trading civilian clothes for uniforms and uncomfortable boots. It was learning how to be something I'd never been - a soldier.
There's something about sitting on a couch for hours at a time every day that makes one physically weak. That required undoing, and the undoing took about seven weeks. Seven weeks in the Army's version of a fat farm. The fitness training unit prepared me for basic training, not just physically. On top of six hours of PT every day, we also learned drill and ceremony, marksmanship and the mental state necessary for victory: adapt, improvise, overcome.
Adapting wasn't too difficult. Yes, there was some culture shock, but it was mitigated by knowing what was expected of me. It meant accepting the situation as it was and not running away. It meant being present. It meant understanding that I could not change the circumstances, but I could change my response.
When we adapt, we accept. It lowers our reactance - the immediate push back we feel when confronted with something we didn't ask for. This in turn allows us to deal with the situation at hand without freaking out.
I had to adapt to life as a soldier. I couldn't quit, I couldn't leave because it was uncomfortable. This was the life I chose, and it wasn't like the one I left behind. It was new, and once I adapted to it, exciting.
Improvise - on the spot creativity, to build or work without a plan. I can explain this critical step the same way my eighth grade drama teacher did, use what you have however you can and make it up as you go. There's no formula, no script, no right or wrong.
In the Army, improvise meant to look at the situation and come up with a creative solution. It meant working with every available tool and resource. It meant outside the box thinking. It meant hearing people say it "won't work" or my personal favorite "we've never done it like that before''. Improvising means there's an entire world of uncharted possibilities for problem solving.
Improvising also means changing mindsets from a fixed "this sucks, there's no way to…" to a more powerful mindset of "how can I use what I have to…". It causes us to come up with solutions rather than more problems that don't get solved.
Adapting and Improvising will only lead to one end - overcoming.
To overcome is to persevere. It requires grit. It means digging in and hanging on. It means not giving up. When people tell me they want to quit, my response is the same. "You can quit, just not today."
Sometimes, you rise above and sometimes you power through. Either way, you overcome. You grow, you become better than you were. Overcoming sets an example to those who follow in our footsteps. Overcoming tells us circumstances don't dictate victory. It is the natural result of adapting and improvising.
Adapt, improvise, overcome. A simple three step process for becoming a better human, one who can deal with problems more effectively and lead others to do the same.
is the rapport coach. Jon teaches the neuroscience behind relationships to create extraordinary experiences between humans. Sign up for the blog at therapportcoach.com
is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor & CEO of TheDreamUnLocked: Boutique Coaching for Actors, Writers & Dreamers