Thursday, August 6, 2009

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

I have never been a Marine, and would never seek to claim for myself any of the honor that is theirs alone. However, I have been acquainted with enough Marines to be influenced by their habits, discipline and attitude. My preparation for the Navy chaplaincy (which ultimately was not to be), led me to spend time reading of the Corps, appreciating their traditions, sympathizing with their pride, running to their cadence. Over and over the credo of "Improvise, Adapt and Overcome" is repeated among them, driving them forward, giving them strength. I find myself inspired by those words as well, wanting to apply them, to live up to them, to live as if inspired by them to keep moving toward the mission giving me by life and God's providential work.

Having completed my first week at the new job here in Houston, these words ring in my ears and haunt me anew. They call me to throw out the old game plan and welcome an entirely new one. The new set of circumstances are precisely that - new circumstances. The one experiencing them is the same. Character and instinct are built over time, and the personal makeup that I bring to Houston is the same that was given to such blessed fulfillment in Fate, Texas.

Improvise - realize that the visibility of possibilities does not constitute the entirety of their number. Many more hidden possibilities may exist that have yet to be unearthed. Chances to minister, to engage in significant acts, to participate in powerful prospects or facilitate meaningful moments lie around every corner. Long term vision is not necessary to take full advantage of the openings in the present. Far to many people fail to use imagination in this way. Surely the avenues for significance are so abundant all around that new corridors of fulfillment exist at every turn. The nature of improvisation is to rhapsodize with spontaneous skills, to be "fluid" because to be flexible is too rigid at such times.

Adapt - The main focus of adaption is the extent to which the situation necessitated changes in you. The principle assumes the versatility of a person. One does not need to become a chameleon in order to acclimate to new surroundings or contacts. On the contrary, the changes necessary often fall well within the normal bounds of one's diverse skills and qualities. Adaptation is simply bringing different skills and traits to the fore that lie dormant in other circumstances, and then applying them in a manner specific to the immediate challenges. Far from suggesting inconsistency in someone, adaptation can demonstrate the versatility of one's unwavering character.

Overcome - In sum, victory is always possible, depending on the dynamic definitions of "victory" that may apply at the moment. To "overcome" is simply to meet and surpass the obstacles that impede progress toward worthy goals. "Worthy" could be unpacked for quite a while, but assuming the goal is legitimate, forward progress can be pursued without bothering the conscience. In Christian circles, goal have to account for loyalty to Christ and people around as well. Walking over people to get your way is not an option. However, to the extent that the goal is actually an outgrowth of one's loyalty to Christ and people, it should be chased after with profound passion. For my part, goals have been determined by mission, which grows out of my makeup, which I stays with me in every circumstance.

Therefore, in many way "improvise, adapt and overcome" remain inspiring words, especially now that here in Houston, there is need to re-apply those words all over again. I am not a Marine, and never have been. However, I once tried to become a chaplain to Marines and therefore sought to learn their mindset. Goaded on by their example, I approach the new job in Houston, and the many other opportunities that will emerge here, with the determined resolution inspired by that Marine credo.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

I think that this saying fits our family well! It sums up what MUST be our mindset in order to move to the next thing, because it is hard to move on to the next thing; but we imporvise, adapt and overcome!