Interesting fact #1 – We have wooden floors in our house.
Interesting fact #2 – We also have a very active dog who likes to chase things.
Why? What possible purpose would I have for telling you these interesting bunt also useless pieces of information? Well, bizarrely, they go together to perfectly demonstrate learning in action.
When Benji (our dog) was just a pup he loved to chase things. It’s in his nature. As he chased many things indoors, he quickly learned that the ground below his feet was slippy and quickly he learned how to chase and slide. He’s very good at it now and can pretty much judge his stopping distance perfectly, sliding the final 3 or 4 feet to ensure he merely bumps gently off the door, picks the ball up on the way and turns to head back to us to repeat the whole process over and over again.
He’s a really quick learner however he’s proven himself not to be that adaptable. For example, if we take him out on to the grass to play he continues to try and slide. Now, this works some of the time but actually many times he gets nowhere, misses the ball and, a couple of times, has actually stopped so sharply he goes tumbling, comically, head over heels before continuing in a ‘nothing happened, I meant that to happen’ kinda way, a bit like you do when you trip in the middle of the street!
It’s amazing how many of us are a bit like Benji. Just because something worked in one place we assume that the same strategy, the same approach, will work again and, when it doesn’t, we don’t change. We keep doing exactly what we did before and look confused as to why it didn’t work. Changing? No, that would be too sensible.
For example, think about the people you know that think that anger, moods, huffs or strops will change anything. They bring the strategies that worked in a previous (and probably failed) relationship into a new one thinking this time it will be different and, of course, they quickly find it’s yet again not getting them what they want. The sensible thing to do would be to try a new approach, wouldn’t it? But what people tend to do is just get angrier, moodier, huffier and stroppier hoping that this will make the difference. Another failure happens. Is this time for change? This time? Maybe?
Adaptability and flexibility is a key life skill. The ability to learn that every new situation needs to be measured individually and our behaviour and approach adapted to make it the best fit possible. This doesn’t mean old ways won’t work, in fact, in many cases they will work absolutely perfectly. You just may have to put them in a new order or even use them simply as a base on which to build something almost completely new.
But you need to be open to realising when something isn’t working that you need to change your approach. It’s not the rest of the world that doesn’t understand, accept or appreciate you. In reality, a failure to adapt means it’s you that’s not understanding, accepting or appreciating the rest of the world.
Benji doesn’t have the facility to yet understand that the world under his feet is not always slippy. You do. So do you continue to tumble head over heels or do you find a new way to play fetch?