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May 17, 2012

News & Opinion: The Finch Effect

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:06 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Charles Darwin once noticed that finches adapted their beak structures over a few generations to deal with changes in their environment. These adaptations were essential for the birds to survive. They weren't quick fixes, but necessary ones, which helped them find new food sources while other species slowly died off.

These skills informed Darwin's theories of survival, and today provide a metaphor that author Nacie Carson uses in her new book, The Finch Effect: The Five Strategies to Adapt and Thrive in Your Working Life. There are more people in the workforce today than ever before, and the global economy is changing the needs of nearly every industry. To survive in this environment, like Darwin's finches, professionals need to adapt. Whether you're fresh out of college, didn't go at all, or have even been in the workforce for many years, there is no guarantee of success. But there are steps that can be taken, "beak adaptations" if you will, that can improve your chances of survival.

According to Carson (and per the book title) her five strategies are as follows:

1. Adopt a Gig Mindset
2. Identify Your Value
3. Cultivate Your Skills
4. Nurture Your Social Network
5. Harness Your Entrepreneurial Energy

You'll have to read the book to find out the details of each strategy. Her writing is clear, smart, and well-researched. I'll leave you a sample here, which also serves as a general theme for the book:
Yet when you come down to it, what separates members of the Fittest from everyone else is not intelligence. Or education. Or career experience. What separates members of the Fittest from all the other professionals out there is their willingness to look beyond such perspective-warping psychological mechanisms (even those with their best interests at heart) and allow themselves to be open to change and the opportunities to evolve.

 

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.