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Learning to Adapt and Adapting to Learn: On Dads, RECODE and Evaluations

June 29, 2016

by Chad Lubelsky

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Former RECODE Social Innovation Fellow Danica Straith recently wrote about the Power of Vulnerability in reflecting on her experiences with the McConnell Foundation. Her candid thoughts on the value of opening up—even when it’s uncomfortable—are, in part, my inspiration for the following post.


My wonderful and wonderfully inspiring 81-year-old dad has been in and out of the hospital the past few months. Even as his health worsens, and as uncertainty about the future increases, my dad continues to unflappably adapt to his changing circumstances.

Like many men of his generation, he expects to be in control; yet, being in control is an option that is less and less available to him. Even if he’s not quite embracing everything that is happening, he is generally accepting of his circumstances and doing what he can to roll with it.

My dad’s reactions are in marked and noticeable contrast to my own. I keep trying to exercise control by attempting to force my parents to adopt not just a plan, but my plan. For everyone’s sake I need to do a better job of stepping back and adapting to our changing circumstances. Fortunately, my dad is showcasing effective practices such as recognizing that what worked last year, or even last month, won’t necessarily work today.

Somehow, in my haste, desire and need to make things better, I’m ignoring in my personal life what I know to be true in my professional life — adapting to changing context is essential for success. And even if I know in theory the importance of adapting to context, in reality, I can always do a better job. In taking the time and space to watch my dad model how to adapt to changing circumstances, I’m seeing opportunity to hone my professional adaption skills.

Read More.

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