Adaptability for Developing the Consciousness Quotient and Being Successful (according to Dr. Shimi Kang)

The Dolphin As A Symbol for Adaptability


Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending an excellent presentation by Vancouver Psychiatrist and author of The Dolphin Way, Dr. Shimi Kang on Adaptability – Raising Resilient Children.

She started off by saying:

Simple is not easy

Knowing is not doing

Doing is being

~ Dr. Shimi Kang

I loved this because in essence, she was saying that we often know that we need to change the simplest things and make the simplest things priorities, but we get so caught up in thinking that being busy is a badge of honour and having down-time is a sign of weakness, that we stop letting common sense guide us.

What Is Hindering Our Adaptability?

We are a sleep deprived nation.

Our ancestors knew the importance of hunting and gathering but we’ve become overly competitive and overly obsessed with gathering possessions.

Stress is the #1 health epidemic of the 21st Century, according to the World Health Organization.

Our kids are over-pressured and under-prepared.  She states that common sense has become uncommon practice.

Adaptability is the one skill we need.  Survival of the fittest has never been about who is the strongest or the smartest, but rather who can adapt the best to the environment.

The Dolphin As A Symbol for Prioritizing Our Life According to the Principles of Developing Adaptability

She uses the symbol of the dolphin and the acronym P.O.D to emphasize the principles that we need to focus on.

The “P” stands for Play.  (Read my previous article on the 12 Benefits of Play according to Dr. Shimi Kang)

Play creates new tracks (neural pathways) in our brain.  Play allows us to be comfortable with uncertainty.  It allows us to break down a problem, explore and allow and encourage reasonable risks.  Play is an opportunity to let go of perfectionism; one of the biggest epidemics of the 21st century.  (Read my previous article on Perfectionism).

The “O”stands for others.

In our technological world, we are becoming less and less connected.  (Read my previous article summering Alone Together , the work of Sherry Turkle.)  We need to be part of a community and feel the support of others.  We need to interact with others face to face.  As children spend more and more time on screens, their heads and faces are down.

The “D” stands for downtime.

Our children are over-scheduled.  Whether it be extra-curricular activities or homework, they have less and less time for downtime.  It’s not uncommon for children to be eating their dinner on-the-go in the car, instead of around a family dinner table. (I am personally thankful that my son’s teacher this year does not believe in weekend homework.  If we were to follow Dr. Kang’s advice seriously, all schools would have a “no homework” policy for weekends.)

Motivational Theory and Adaptability

Since Dr. Kang works with many adolescents who are struggling with addiction, she also summarized Motivation Theory which connects to Adaptability.

There are 5 stages of change in motivational theory.

  1. Precontemplation (unaware of the problem)
  2. Contemplation (aware of the problem and the desired change)
  3. Preparation (intends to take action)
  4. Action (practices the desired behaviour)
  5. Maintenance (works to sustain the behaviour change)

To show how people can be at different stages of motivation, she showed the amusing Nail in the Head video spoof.  This is definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it, and also an excellent reminder as to what true validation looks like.

Dr. Shimi Kang’s advice to parents on developing adaptability:

  • Foster internal control
  • Emphasize commitment and support to your children
  • Ask curious, open-ended questions
  • Practice listening more than speaking
  • Be firm yet flexible
  • Focus on process vs. end product


To see a condensed version of her presentation on Tuesday night, watch her 18 minutes TEDx talk on Adaptability and The Dolphin Way.

Her talk was inspirational in reminding us to enjoy life in the way that dolphins do, by creating our own personal version of P.O.D within our families,



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