Adaptability: Humanity’s amazing blessing and scary curse


Adaptability: One of humanity’s incredible blessings.

Adaptability has saved us and helped us for thousands of years. 

This NYU publication explains how early humans survived and spread from Africa to Eurasia because of their adaptability. This adaptability allowed them to change and diversify, ultimately enabling them to thrive. These findings suggest that the ability to adapt was a significant factor in their evolution.

Keep that in mind the next you’re going through something uncomfortable. It’ll get better.

However, adaptability can be a double-edged sword. We adapt too well.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes we get used to the good things and people in our lives and start taking them for granted, only to miss them dearly when they’re gone?

Our innate ability to adapt helps us face challenges but also makes us prone to overlook consistent excellence. 

Here are three situations where we tend to overlook the efforts of others:

  1. Leadership and management: we can become so accustomed to our best team members’ reliability and high performance that we forget to acknowledge their efforts.
  2.  Relationships: where we get used to having a fantastic partner and take them for granted.
  3. Parenting: we set such high expectations for our kids that even if they meet them, we get used to it and expect even more.
In order to stop this recurring pattern, it is necessary to make a deliberate and mindful effort.

Keeping Valued People Close


Quantum WorkplaceGloboforceGallupHR Executive, and many other sources prove that over 75% of employees would be more productive if recognized more frequently, and 71% would be less likely to leave their organization.

As managers through leadership, we must consciously acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and actions of our team members, including our bosses 😉.

Regularly expressing gratitude for hard work and achievements helps maintain morale and motivation and ensures we don’t only realize their value in their absence.

It may sound simple, but in reality, it is not easy.

Why is it hard to properly recognize?

Recognizing others is hard because it’s a very personal experience.

In the workspace, for example, some leaders only recognize earth-shattering accomplishments, while others recognize every little effort. 

Other leaders believe that recognition can be manipulative, immoral, or unethical.

Some leaders use the recognition style of “What have you done for me lately?” which is my least favorite, while others don’t recognize period. 

The receiver complicates things even more on the other side of recognition. You respond to different recognition styles depending on your generation, how you were raised or recognized by your parents, or your personality traits.

Let’s address the unethical argument

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who came up with three formulations for the categorical imperative. 

Here’s the one that I like most, it’s called “Formula of Humanity as End in Itself“:

“So act that you use humanity, as much in your own person as in the person of every other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means.

That means you cannot use people as a means to your ends. They need to be the end themselves. 

For example, recognizing their work to manipulate them to work harder so that you can look good for leadership and get promoted, or your bonuses are a no-no!

On the other hand, if you genuinely recognize their efforts to inspire them to work hard, be fulfilled, and be proud of their work, which in turn helps them grow their careers and makes them fantastic team members, which would inspire the rest of the team, then recognizing their effort is the moral thing to do.

Suggestions on how to recognize better as leaders, partners, and parents

Make it a habit by making part of the process:

Making recognition a topic of your 1:1 check-ins will help you become more mindful about paying attention to your team members’ actions and efforts and looking for things to recognize.

You can also use recognition software and set weekly or daily reminders to help you remember to look for things to recognize.

Reflective recognition:

Encourage your team to share their achievements and which part precisely they are proud of. Have them share the hardships and the parts that required extra thinking or work. This can be empowering.

Be specific:

Be specific about what you are recognizing. Instead of general compliments, point out particular actions or traits you admire. This shows genuine observation and appreciation.

Timely recognition:

Acknowledge achievements and efforts soon after they occur, as much as possible. Prompt recognition reinforces positive behaviors and demonstrates attentiveness.

Personalized acknowledgment:

Tailor your recognition to fit the individual. What might be meaningful to one person could differ from another. Understanding what makes each team member, partner, or child feel valued is key.

Some people prefer public acknowledgment, while others appreciate private recognition. Knowing your audience can make your acknowledgment more impactful.

Recognition of Effort, Not Just Success: 

Acknowledge the effort and improvement, not just the outcomes. This is particularly important in parenting and education, where you want to encourage perseverance and resilience.

Sometimes recognizing the little things is essential:

This is very important in relationships. For example, my wife likes it when I thank her for doing the dishes or organizing the house in a very functional way. I do it because I want her to know that I don’t take it for granted or that it is “her job to do these things” or “she’s supposed to.” 

She also likes it when I tell her, “Awesome job,” for going to the gym, working with the kids on their homework, or music practice. I do it because I know these things are hard, and I’m genuinely proud of her, which motivates her to do them.

Don't overdo it, but don't not do it.

Thank you so much for reading!

By Joe Khoury