Act And Adapt

At the individual level we act more and adapt less.

At the building level we act and adapt.

At the environmental level we act less and adapt more.

The nouns and the verbs this week are one kind of map and all maps are wrong but some are useful. Stories are maps too, let’s hear one more.

Steve Martin began his adult career writing television jokes and his early stage show was a real hodgepodge. There were garage sales with more of a cogent theme. When he decided to become a comedian and not ‘writer, performer, comedian, musician, etc.’ he wrote that it was scary. With multiple descriptors it was safe. With one it was sink or swim. That was Martin’s change in ‘the head’.

Martin practiced. He got feedback. He refined his show. He got good, then he got big, biggest in the world. Then during one performance at Madison Square Garden, Martin saw himself in the environment. Instead of doing the show he was watching himself do the show, as if he had tickets in the last row.

That's when he knew he had to quit.

People weren’t laughing at his jokes, they were laughing at the experience. Martin’s absurdist comedy used to proceed: joke, pause, laugh. At his peak the order was reversed; laugh, pause, joke. And Martin was done. He could have played on. He’d still sell out. But the expectations of the environment changed and he had to adapt. He opted out.

That’s the framework for this series. Acting more at the individual level and adapting more at the environmental one.