Evolving is adapting to survive in the long term.

If we also manage to do it in less time than the rest, we will not only survive but also benefit from the new situation and play with advantage. What we are able to do with that advantage depends on our vision, ability and attitude.

This is generally true, but I am going to frame it in a more specific context: professional and personal development.

Why? Because more and more people are wondering why they should get into a development process. And it is still difficult, sometimes, to perceive the value behind it. Why getting involved in this process if I am not very clear about what I am going to get out of it?

We need to be realists.

We need to be realists. Almost no one gets into something that will cost them work and time (as well as money) if they are not sure what the results are going to be. We cannot afford to invest in something that has no return. Now, how does that return have to be for the investment to make sense?

Before going there, let us consider for a moment the issue of evolution as a mechanism for survival. From my point of view the key is in that “long term” that I stated at the beginning. Because it is possible to survive without evolving but it is not sustainable and, the problem is that each time the effort that must be put into survival is greater; until a time comes when the race is lost.

That effort to survive has to do with our ability to anticipate changes.

That effort to survive has to do with our ability to anticipate changes. Of course, because if there were no changes we would not have to survive; we are already perfectly adapted to our circumstances and, in most cases, quite successfully.

And in the face of changes, sought or not, what options do we have? How do we deal with them? The first option is to draw on experience. The one that has brought us to where we are. Because if there are certain strategies that worked for us in the past, why aren’t they going to work for us now? Logically, try to use experience is our first option. And sometimes it works.

What if it doesn’t work? When things don’t work for us, we have two options: admit that we have become obsolete and that we have to learn something new to move forward or insisting in using strategies that worked before until they work. It is true that in the process of trying things that do not work we can come to the conclusion that we have to change strategy. But we will have already lost important time.

Don’t lose time

The other day, talking about this, a manager told me that he does not understand the way of thinking of those who are now joining the job market, nor what motivates them, nor what they want. They have lost respect, he told me, for grey hair. So now it costs me three times as much to get the results I need. When it costs you 10 times more instead of three, you may not be able to do it anymore.

This issue of cost leads me to efficiency, and this is where we can start talking about return.

Is it efficient that, due to a change in context, our leadership no longer has the same effects?

No, almost certainly. It is neither efficient for us personally (because it wears us down, in the best of cases) nor is it efficient for our organization (because our productivity and efficiency are going to decrease significantly).

Business is highly impacted by leadership efficiency

According to a study published in 2002 by Zenger and Folkman, 40% of business development is impacted by leadership development. I believe that almost 20 years later this percentage may be even higher because the changes in business environments are much greater and faster than then. If we believe this, every time it becomes difficult for us to lead efficiently, we directly impact our results.

Furthermore, inefficient leadership has immediate personal effects, probably more difficult to quantify. The first is personal wear and tear. Ultimately, and if we can’t overcome the situation, it can cost us our job.

So I go back to my question from the beginning: what options do we have to deal with this?

Learn and develop new skills and attitudes. In the fastest way possible.

That’s what development is about. Professional and personal development. Good news is that there are mechanisms that can help us make the leap towards what we need effectively. The bad news is that it is an endless process: as evolution is.