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Can your employee experience break the human adapt down spiral?

Thankfully, humans learning to adapt has ensured our survival as a race and differentiated us from most other species in terms of what we are capable of. We can adapt and survive in some of the harshest physical, mental, and emotional circumstances. Our ability to demonstrate resilience is nothing short of a miracle in some instances.

This is not breaking news to you right? What I want to shine a light on here is an adapting cycle that I have seen play out in my 20 yr. human side of business experience, as a personal coach and in my own life journey that leads to a life apathy, in some instances, so strong that people simply give up and settle.

The cycle is this – adapting down.

In the large part I have experienced that people have learned to adapt down instead of adapting up. Whether is comes from our early up bringing, our education, or society it has become the norm that with each hardship we face – we learn to expect a little less from life.


• With each broken heart we begin to love a little less

• Each unheard idea makes us more silent

• With each bad boss we begin to shine a little less

• With each failure we come to understand that success is for someone else

• With each example of terrible human behaviour that leads to success we begin to believe that kindness is weak

• With each feeling of loneliness, we learn to increasingly survive without connection


We go from being a young person full of unconscious, vibrant pure possibility to adults with a conscious level of life expectation that can be described as dull and mediocre at best and most of the humans that are in your workforce have each been through this cycle multiple times.


Years ago, I coined a phrase to describe the people I saw around me in the working world


'the walking wounded'.

I know it sounds harsh but let me explain. I was fresh into my first corporate job all bright eyed and bushy tailed having been drawn into this organisation with stories of a world class people culture. I was so excited to soak it all up and learn all the new things that working for a large organisation could teach me. It took me about two months to realise how unhappy a huge chunk of the workforce was. More importantly, they put up with it despite not liking it.

It blew my mind - I could not believe what was happening in the world of work and I started to call it the ‘great grey treadmill of work doom’ - the process of being repeatedly battered by the harsh realities of what it can mean to be employed. As I watched people around me suffer from the effects of the grey treadmill, I felt like they were the corporate walking wounded.

I have held a belief since this experience that organisations have a responsibility for each of the individual needs of the humans that make up their workforce and have worked tirelessly since I founded What’s Possible to work with organisations to create employee experiences and cultures that do the exact opposite of perpetuating the ‘walking wounded’ state – in fact the essence of the work I do is to enable organisations and individuals to break the adapt down loop and start adapt up instead.


Organisations have an incredible opportunity to reverse the adapt down cycle in their people – by changing the focus of employee experience to one that is based in teaching fortitude, solution mindset, keeping promises, self-knowledge – not as a leadership programme, it should be an everyone programme. From the very first touchpoint, onboarding and right the way through to exit you will be giving your people the opportunity to learn what it means to adapt up instead, meaning we can bring back that youthful sense of possibility but this time with knowledge and power instilled on how to make this possibility a day-to-day reality.

What’s Possible has resources, guidance, and experience ready for you.


If you want to turn your employee experience into something that not only benefits your bottom line, but your brand, your culture, your people, your teams their people and families then get in touch – this will be the most incredible investment you ever make.




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