indicatorThe Owl

We are amazingly adaptable when we need to be

Adapting to a new economic reality will not be easy, but it may not be quite as difficult as we think, either

By ATB Economics 20 October 2020 2 min read

Today’s Owl shares a personal story from our Chief Economist Todd Hirsch about how adapting to change is sometimes easier than we think.

In the fall of 2019, my partner and I went to Australia for a vacation, traveling 2,500 kilometres along the northern coast along the Great Barrier Reef. Australia is a beautiful country, but full of danger: sharks, spiders, jellyfish, crocodiles and snakes seem to be lurking around every corner, ready to kill you.

Yet it wasn’t the spiders or sharks that scared me. I didn’t worry about crocs or snakes. I was terrified of one thing: driving on the left side of the road. I couldn’t wrap my head around how this was possible. I was sure I couldn’t do it.

In theory, I could have petitioned the Australian government to reverse lane direction to accommodate me during my vacation. Or I could have just driven on the right side of the road, dodging the oncoming traffic. Or I could have hoped my partner would do all the driving. These options were just not practical.

Finally, I had to take the wheel on the right hand side of the rented SUV. But when I did, something remarkable happened: it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought! That’s not to say it was easy—it required 100% of my concentration. It wasn’t as simple as driving at home, but it was not nearly as complicated as I had feared.

Adapting to change was made possible when I finally conceded that I was in a new system. I didn’t try to get Australians to drive like we do in Canada. I had to embrace the new environment. And once I did that, I adapted more quickly than I thought.

For Alberta, our economy has been sideswiped. The last few years have not been easy, especially for individuals and business owners who are at risk of losing everything. In the same way, adapting to a new economic reality will not be easy. But it may not be quite as difficult as we think, either.

If you would like to invite Todd to do an online presentation on the theme of adapting to change, please send an email to economics@atb.com.

Adapting to change was made possible when I finally conceded that I was in a new system

Adapting to change was made possible when I finally conceded that I was in a new system


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