The Darwinian theory still stands the test of time today. The ‘fittest’ survive.
When I originally learned this theory (about 40 years ago!!) I thought it meant fittest as in the one who had the most developed physique. That the more athletic (the fittest) would survive. It made sense to me because the gazelle that runs the fastest doesn’t get eaten, right? Even from the predator’s point of view, this works, if they are in peak physical fitness, they can run faster and therefore catch more food.
I also knew that fittest could mean the one that had the best camouflage. If the predator can’t find you, it can’t eat you!
Adaptability To Become The Fittest
I was also aware that there was another definition of fittest and that was the ones who adapted to their surroundings. The ancestors of giraffes that had the longest necks could reach the leaves from higher up the tree. They didn’t die of starvation and so got to reproduce with other longer-necked giraffe ancestors. Their offspring had the benefit of 2 x long-neck genes and so they themselves had longer necks. Roll on a few millennia and we have giraffes that look how they do today and eat from the top of trees, where no one else can reach.
Those who can adapt to their surroundings will survive.
I now realise that there’s another definition of ‘fittest’. Those who are mentally agile and can remain so as the world goes mad. Or into a second lockdown in our case.
Lockdown was hard, no matter who you are. I spent the first lockdown at home with my family. As I work from home anyway, I am fortunate in the fact that my life didn’t change much.
My daughter’s life changed dramatically. She had been in the first year of a musical theatre degree and went from having a busy social life, a physically demanding course and a whole group of friends around her to being at home with two people in their 50s. She really struggled.
Lockdown was particularly hard for those who live alone. Even those who enjoy their own company were finding it tough in the end.
Some people I know have only been out of a version of lockdown for three weeks since 23 March. Some of those who live in some regions of Greater Manchester (in the UK) have been restricted almost continually. For those who live on their own, this is tantamount to solitary confinement and that is a method of torture!
As we start Lockdown 2.0 (as I heard it referred to on the news today) it seems that those of us who are mentally fit will survive the best. This is not a judgement. I am aware that lockdown has both caused and exacerbated mental health problems in many.
However, rather like Viktor Frankl’s astonishing ability to rise above his situation in the German concentration camps of the second world war, I think that I may need to reach deep inside to get through this pandemic. Frankl was able to move to a mental position of pitying the guards who treated prisoners so cruelly, I need to move to a position of accepting my reality.
I am incredibly fortunate in that I am not in his position and yet I can still learn a lesson from him. How I view the current situation will dictate how I get through it.
Rural Italian Infrastructure Is Not The Fittest!
For the first two years of running The Coaching Revolution, I had to do it with internet speeds that were little more than dial-up. In November last year, I got fibre to the door and it transformed my life.
In September this year, I moved to Italy and on 1 November I moved into my new home. It’s a beautiful old apartment in the middle of nowhere, up at the top of a hill with Italian Job-style steep and winding roads to reach it.
It comes with an incredible view of hills, trees, and sunshine. As it’s autumn, it’s ablaze with colour. However, despite the provider assuring me that both the internet and my mobile signal would be perfectly ok here, neither is true. The bedroom, at the back of the apartment, gets the best wifi signal and there’s none at all in the front room, which common sense would normally dictate would be where I should work.
I’m typing this article sitting at a desk in the front room right now. I’d usually type it straight into LinkedIn and then share it to my website. However, I have zero internet connection, so I’m typing it in Word. I’ll then wander to my bedroom and connect to the (very slow) internet and put these words where they need to go.
(When I say slow, it took me 30 minutes to download a 47Mb printer driver earlier!)
Frustrating? Yes. Insurmountable? No.
Counting My Blessings
It sounds trite as I type this, but I find that counting my blessings helps.
I am in an incredible place, with unbelievable views
I am healthy and well
My family is safe
My dog is with me
The wine is delicious
I learned how to make focaccia
I’m learning Italian
Do these things make the frustrations go away? No. Do they help me to remain focused on my wonderful life? Yes, yes they do.
I’ll take focus over frustration any day!