Adapt to Experience

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A history of ATE.  If you want professional services see this letter.

John Stephen Veitch has searched for 10 years for understanding of how the Internet is best used in the business environment.  He progressed from being certain that he understood the Internet and how it would impact upon society, to appreciating that all those early expectations were ill founded.  That was a painful lesson.  Then began a long search for new understanding, seeking to discover what really happens online.  Despite all the hype and focus on the Internet, in most people's lives and in most companies "nothing important is happening" regarding the Internet.  Opportunity exists, but it's not understood and the Internet is not being made a useful part of everyday business. 

The term Adapt to Experience follows from the title of the book by George E Vaillant, Adaptation to Life, published by Little Brown and Company, Boston and Toronto. 

In his book G E Vaillant discusses the strategies people use to live their lives as revealed in the Grant Study of Adult Development.  Adaptation to Life follows over 30 years the real lives of 264 young American men.  Vaillant concludes that successful people are not successful because they got there by some easy process.  Those who were in the long run "successful" all needed to face and adapt to the curve balls life offered them. 

Vaillant also has kind words for those of us who are still on the journey.  Even bad habits like avoiding the issue, not being on time, procrastination, excessive drinking, failure to set goals or flying into a rage, the things other people hate, are strangely adaptive in the long run.  There is a purpose that serves the user.  If the user can understand that purpose perhaps then the behaviour might change.  Some people learn the lessons of life easily and adapt quickly.  Others misread the signals, respond in unhelpful ways, and take the long journey home. 

None of us understand the present in a way that allows us to make the best use of it.  Hindsight of the present is not possible.  But hindsight of the past is a gift we might choose to have, that few people use well, because we rely on our faulty memories to reconstruct the past that suits our purpose in the present. 

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How do you learn from the life you are living? You need to keep records, to count and measure the things that interest you.  Establish for yourself some personal benchmarks that can be tested again, and again if necessary.  Finding a way to record and keep your own data over many years is one of the keys to success.  A prime method is to keep a permanent written record.  A simple text you write by hand in an exercise book is ideal, cheap, portable and relatively permanent. 

There is a story in Hindu mythology, The Mahabharata which tells the story of birth and growing up, of who we are and what we believe, of the battles we fought and the principles we live by.  An actor on the BBC talking to a youth about The Mahabharata says, "If you listen carefully you will become a different person."

So it is with your own life.  "If you listen carefully you will become a different person."  My own way of listening was to keep a journal, but there other effective methods.  You need to listen to your own inner voice, and you need to listen also to the wider world.  Both signals are important.  People commonly fall into the trap of becoming excessively focused either on one's self or on the power of outside forces. 

Experience is a rigorous teacher.  We inevitably suffered from confusion and doubt and an inability to fully understand what is happening.  Most of us have learnt that every time we try something new we discover something else that doesn't quite work in the way we exected.  Every new adventure contains it's own hiding hand.  Does this teach us anything?  Read more in this site and judge for yourself. 

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The internet is changing the world in ways we can't begin to imagine.  Web sites and email are not the key to that change, they are just a relatively passive links in a long chain of data transmission and communication.  The real action is in your head and in mine.  Thinking is the key to the successful use of information.  To the extent that communications on the internet engage individuals and challenge them to consider how their own lives are enriched by new ideas, the internet is powerful.  Local action in the real world, in your home, in your business and in your club or society is where you'll see the effect of this new thinking.  The potential exists to do much better.  People who understand this potential are few.  Perhaps you are one of those few?

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