Two months ago I was invited to speak at a career conference in Provo, Utah. I was excited to return to my alma mater and teach career advisors how to help college students thrive in today’s workplace. I concluded my remarks with a quote that one of my undergraduate professors kept posted outside his door:
It is not the strongest that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
I remember walking by his office, reading the quote, and wondering why he put it there. But a few months after graduation, when the company I joined declared bankruptcy and I was struggling to find work, I realized why my professor felt so strongly about the need to adapt.
Like many people in their career, I planned on one thing, but events outside of my control forced me to pivot. I think Mike Tyson said it best: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
On Monday I woke up to the announcement that LinkedIn had been acquired by Microsoft. Like many of my west coast colleagues, I heard the news through a flurry of text messages and emails. Experiencing a range of emotions, I couldn’t help but think back to the presentation I had recently given on the need to continually adapt. Now I had to practice what I preached.
Having had a few days to process what this all means for LinkedIn and our future, I am genuinely excited for the acquisition. Of course, having worked in M&A, I know that acquisitions are never easy—the devil is always in the details. But I’m optimistic about how this new partnership can help LinkedIn realize its vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
Shortly after the deal announcement, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner addressed the company. After discussing the opportunities that lie ahead, he shared a story about Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) of the Duke Blue Devils. In Jeff’s words:
“Every time (Duke) goes up and down the court and they complete a sequence, offense or defense, Coach K yells out the exact same thing, every time. He yells out “next play,” because he doesn’t want the team lingering too long on what just took place. He doesn’t want them celebrating that incredible alley-oop dunk, and he doesn’t want them lamenting the fact that the opposing team just stole the ball and had a fast break that led to an easy layup. You can take a moment to reflect on what just happened, and you probably should, but you shouldn’t linger too long on it…”
When change happens, we must be willing to adapt. We can’t dwell obsessively on what once was or what might have been. We must look forward.
The past is to be learned from, but not lived in.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.