A couple years ago I took a lunch with a competitor, where he took it upon himself to suggest I was a survivor, as I had quickly maneuvered through recent shifts on the landscape in our industry and come out ahead. At the time I took it as a compliment and went so far as to accept a job offer from him shortly thereafter – taking a shot on a company that was taking advantage of the rapidly changing times, even though I knew it was toxic, I was optimistic – a year later, I left..
On my way out I revisited that conversation over lunch, I felt he had gotten me wrong – I didn’t see myself as a survivor, I thought I was just pretty good at adapting – my journey had lead me from my own company through every major agency in the city, back out onto my own two feet – I was happy.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve always learned the hard way, picking up the same two stones I stand on today and placing them in front of me on a path into tomorrow – ever present, the past a gravel wake, a future ready for my next mistake – “May The Bridges I Burn Light The Way”, said Dylan McKay (90210)
Where am I going with this? I’m not sure – trying to connect the personal with the peripheral - but when I look out on the road ahead, the asphalt gives me anxiety. Why do we do what we do. Why our system promotes such inequality, stifling innovation in its dichotomy. Why do we struggle so much to adapt?
I read an essay recently by Emily Johnston and there’s this incredibly simple line she writes;
“..what keeps nagging at me is that the single most important skill of adaptation may be that we start seeing the world we can choose to move towards, and not just the one that we’re losing.”
So many have backed themselves into a corner, clutching their creature comforts, closing the door and unable to negotiate their way out – easier to hang from the family tree than untie the knot in the noose of ideology.
So, if I may, lets peel our lips off the tailpipe and put our cognition in the ignition, lets adjust the rear-view mirror to see the last sulfur sunset set – let’s let the last flickering flame on the industrial smoke stacks light the way and look ahead in a new way, let’s slow down and pick each-other up..