The secret?

Embrace creative destruction.

Because it’s inevitable.

And it’s everywhere.

It’s evident in the turn of the seasons. In the life (& death) cycles of plants & animals. The rise and fall of civilizations.

Divorce. Illness. Earthquakes.

All the things we dread.

Remember the financial crisis of 2008? Creative destruction.

Hating it doesn’t help.

What does?

The Adaptive Cycle

The thing to know about creative destruction is that through it, resources are released. And become available for re-purposing.

Knowing that can change your life.

It’s a time of opportunity.

The adaptive cycle depicts the life of a complex system.

The system could be biological & social, like your life. Or ecological, like an ocean or a forest.

In a forest, creative destruction occurs through fire.

Mature trees burn, return to the earth as ash, and create space for new things to grow.

As the system regenerates, opportunistic plants and animals creep in, some temporarily, while others take root and flourish. Over time, the ecosystem jostles its way back into a mature forest.

And then the cycle begins again.

The Order of Things

The same thing happens to a human who is faced with creative destruction.

The destruction may be related to money, a relationship or health. Or all three. But the progression is the same.

Devastation followed by a process of awkward regeneration.

Because what makes sense in one type of complex system (like an ecology) is transferable to other types of complex systems (like your life).

The old order comes apart. Sometimes dramatically.

Space is created. New things happen.

Opportunities arise. Combinations are tried and rejected. Others take hold.

Over time, life jostles its way back into a recognizable pattern.

And then the cycle begins again.

Illness as Creative Destruction

We’ve experienced creative destruction in our family.

At worst, Matthew’s illness compounded with side-effects from medications had him in bed 18-20 hours a day and unable to participate in life at all.

He’s been slowly making his way back from that for three years.

In that time, he’s moved from creative destruction to reorganization.


Finding his way through a landscape that is just starting to feel somewhat predictable.

The adaptive cycle presents a possible pathway back from chaos.

Not to the same life.

Part of the creative destruction process involves letting go of that. Completely.

It’s not a track that leads us back so we can continue on as before.

Rather, it’s an opportunity to experiment with approaches that will lead to a new pattern of living.

And yes, you can take some time to feel really pissed off about that.

But when you’re done, just remember, creative destruction frees up resources.

And knowing that can change your life.

BE proactive

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You can learn to see them. And once you do, you can learn to put them together in new ways.

These are the core elements of adaptability.

And what’s known as the ‘back loop’ of the adaptive cycle.

Becoming skilled at navigating the back loop is the key, not only to finding your way out of creative destruction, but to succeeding at life.

The Front Loop

Creative destruction is inevitable. But we like to pour resources into propping up outdated patterns and systems that, left to themselves, would end. This is the opposite of permaculture.

We can sometimes delay creative destruction, but there’s 2 problems with that approach:

  1.  The resources required to prop up a failing system tend increase significantly over time; and
  2. The destruction is often much bigger when the system finally falls apart.

Sometimes it’s better to let the whole thing go.

To release all the resources that are locked up in the system and all the resources that are being deployed trying to keep it from self-destructing.

Let it go. So you can get on with re-purposing those resources by working with the energy of the system, rather than against it.

Terrifying. I know.

But if you want to strategically align yourself to take advantage of what’s unfolding, no matter what that might be, it makes sense.

Tomorrow is the darkest day of the year here in the Northern Lands.

But the day after that, our days will begin growing longer again.

As is the order of things.

Featured Resource

Bulletproof Foods

Fuel your back loop (and your front loop) with high quality foods.

Through my own n=1 experimentation, I've learned what resources help me to stay adaptive. Bulletproof Foods hold up for me, over and over again.

Most people associate Bulletproof with coffee, but (though I adore it) my adrenals can't handle it very often. Instead, I eat:

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