How Adversity leads to Diversity

For many people in the US and around the world, COVID19, the novel coronavirus, has caused varying degrees of adversity in our day to day life. I’d guess there are very few people who haven’t been impacted in some way or another. Adversity is defined as “a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty”, which definitely applies to the effect of COVID19.

When I was working in Olympic National Park, one of the weekly themes I used occasionally with my visiting students was “Adversity leads to Diversity”. You see it all the time in nature; organisms find different ways to survive in harsh environments, such as the tidal zone. Beaten by waves, exposed daily to sun and open air, competing for resources, the animals of the tidal zone have developed a fascinating diversity of survival tactics. Compare two tidal animals: one has a hard shell that closes during low tide and pumps water through its body for nutrients, another has a soft, flexible body and uses “arms” to catch its food. Any guesses on which tidal animals I might be describing? (Answer down at the bottom of the post if you’re curious)

Just as we find in nature, if you stop to think about an adversity you’ve faced in life, current or past, or adversities that others have faced, you can find examples of problem solving driving a diversity of innovative solutions. Individuals and organizations around the world are finding new ways to make the current situation work for them, or at least to do what they need to do to get work/life done. Has there been anything new or different that you’ve done due to COVID19?

Looking to nature as an example is using biomimicry, and I believe there’s great potential to re-discover how organisms solve problems (address adversity) within nature and apply that thinking to our new normal. The excerpt below goes into a bit more detail.

We’ve lost the freedom to gather, to sit in a park, to travel and adventure. Most of us are afraid and uncertain of what will come during these unprecedented times. But despite the unknown, we have gained certainty in at least five things:

1. Our Earth is resilient, and the successful systems that have evolved work in balance.

2. Nature holds the keys to our biggest design challenges. There are millions of years of research and development to learn from, offered by the species alive today.

3. We are a clever, intelligent, and determined species.

4. We are all interconnected and in this together.

5. Tomorrow will come.

Others have written about how everyday creativity could be boosted during COVID19; check it out below. *These articles are meant to be food for thought rather than research based findings.

Why quarantine can make you more creative

Creativity in a Coronavirus World

Last thought on this topic; how has this experience changed the way you do work or life or how will it impact decisions going forward?

PS- the two tidal animals are mussels and anemones.

PPS: If you liked the thought about finding inspiration from nature, check out these daily brain boosts from Biomimicry Institute:

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