The Importance of Adaptability

Posted on: July 16, 2013

A critical survival skill is being able to adapt to changing circumstances. Few if any disasters follow any sort of set game plan. We can and do make plans to mitigate the affects of a crisis but we need to recognize that not everything will follow any sort of playbook. Instead, we should assume there will be a need to sort of go with the flow and adapt as circumstances warrant.

For example, let’s say you’ve devised a rather extensive bug out plan. You have chosen three different bug out locations, each in a different direction. You’ve mapped out multiple routes to each of those locations, taking into account potential road closures, blockades, and other obstacles.

Then, the worst happens and you need to implement your bug out plan. Because the disaster was to the south, you decide to head to the bug out location to the north. However, about 25 miles into your journey, you run into trouble. Your vehicle overheats, forcing you and your family to continue on foot. To make matters worse, you didn’t anticipate a manned roadblock quite this far out from the next town. Do you just give up? Of course not, you adapt. Due to your route planning and inherent map examinations, you know that cutting through the state park forest to the east will take you to an old logging road. Taking that north for a few miles, you’ll get around the town and back on your way with (hopefully) little trouble. While this wasn’t part of any of your planning, you can still take advantage of your knowledge of the area to get to safety.

It is said that no plan survives the first encounter with the enemy.

This is often true. This doesn’t mean, though, that planning is worthless. Far from it, actually. It is through planning that you gain the knowledge you may need to adapt those very plans to suit the specific circumstances you face.

Improvisation is closely related to adaptability. There may come a time, for example, that running to the hardware store for a specialized tool won’t be feasible. You’ll need to make do with what you have. That’s when you might learn a 20mm open end wrench will turn a brake piston almost as well as a specialized brake tool.

The key takeaway here is to understand all your plans might end up being nothing more than vague suggestions, rather than intricate, step-by-step instructions. By recognizing that possibility now, you will be in a more adaptive frame of mind when it comes time to put those plans into action.

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