The Salty Water of Life

Humans when born they live a sweet life. They have no worries and have the attention of the family to wash off their worries. They are free of anxiety and their imagination and curiosity are massive.

When humans grow they experience the salty water of life. They face problems that they need to care for them personally. They migrate seeking better lives and opportunities, but in the back of their minds, they still say sweet home.

The above thoughts brought the idea of this post to my mind. The salmon fish grow in sweet waters and a few years later they move to the ocean because it has better nutrients but at the expense of living in salty waters.

The salmons find great challenges to live in salty waters. They know well they need to incessantly adapt to meet the new challenge. The gradient of salty waters requires the salmon to keep adapting to the ever-changing environment.

To do this admirably the salmon developed phenomenal behavioral and physiological adaptions. In sweet water, their cells can explode. In salty waters, their cells can shrink. It is not my intention to review such adaptations. My purpose is to highlight the need to keep adapting in changing environments. It is the responsibility of the individual to keep doing so and never rely solely on help from others.

Reading a recent post by Dennis Pitocco captures my immediate attention. Dennis wrote ” it wasn’t like there was a business plan for BizCatalyst 360° (or for that matter, GoodWorks 360°), there never has been, it just evolved day after day –driven by so many amazing connections we’ve made along the way”.

No plan and just evolved day after day. This reminded me of the adaptive salmons responding to their changing environment constantly.

The big question that comes to my mind- with determined direction do we need to have a plan in an ever-changing business environment? Or, should we experience daily what we do and adjust accordingly.

Am I right to suggest knowing your direction but leaving planning aside as adaptive plans are like adaptive salmons that survive in radically changing water quality? The experience of Dennis Pitocco suggests the answer is yes.

If you would consider the previous thoughts then how should the role of leaders be adaptive on a daily basis? What a leading salmon-like leader would do?

I read a great recent post by Jean L. Serio that captured my immediate attention. Jean wrote in her post titled IS ESTABLISHING YOUR PERSONAL POWER AT WORK NECESSARY TO SUCCEED? The following quote “Referent power stems from a leader’s ability to inspire and influence others (in a positive way); and is one of several types – including expert, coercive, reward and legitimate power.”

Leaders inspire and influence on constant basis followers to be dependent and accountable for what they do. Like salmons are so we should be to survive living in the salty waters of life.

Your thoughts are warmly welcome.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. AIi, thank you for the opportunity you give me to intervene on this question which is, perhaps, the “leitmotiv” that has accompanied me in my personal and professional life.
    In fact, I am convinced that in life as in work, everything takes place in cycles, with continuous changes that cannot always be planned or, at least, not always in detail. Consequence: we must develop a great ability to adapt.
    Even the organizations, if they want to stay afloat in a constantly evolving society, they must learn to adopt an “experimental” attitude, with the associated risks. And what is necessary is the continuous research and implementation of various solutions, which do not come only from the single person but rather from different sources and subjects, with the aim of creating and exploiting as many strategies as possible.
    In short, organizations and their leadership must face the challenge of being adaptable in highly uncertain and complex environments. By what method this should take place is an equally complex question.
    As for me, I have always believed that the most appropriate way for governance is that of adaptive, shared and participatory leadership.
    An adaptive change creates an imbalance within the system, as well as feelings such as fear, frustration and confusion in the individuals who suffer it. With change, people are taken out of their comfort zone and this leaves them vulnerable.
    Adaptive challenges, then, above all affect the emotions of individuals and their resolution involves the various points of view, the values and the different needs, rooted in their emotional sphere.
    In this sense, the leader should therefore try to listen to the verbal and non-verbal signals of the interlocutors, in order to understand as much as possible their moods and their difficulties.
    Adaptive capacity therefore must necessarily be guided by a figure, such as that of a leader, with the task of creating an adaptive space, with the aim of leading the organization in question towards modernization and continuous improvement.
    Dynamic capacity is a central element and objective of the role of such leadership; for this reason it is necessary to have a leader who has the responsibility of perceiving new opportunities and guiding the organization towards a new reconfiguration of organizational assets.
    In particular, in moments of confusion, of general discouragement, a leader should be able to represent a real source of inspiration. Consequently, the creation of a very strong emotional relationship between the leader and the group members is essential.
    Furthermore, adaptive work requires a great deal of patience for the leader who leads it, especially in those moments, where the goal to be accomplished seems to be further and further away to be achieved.

    • It is interesting to read such a very thoughtful comment, Aldo.

      You defined the general climate of business and so well explained the need to not only adapt, but also to experiment on a continuous basis.

      I find your explanations so well presented and justified that I feel there is no need to add to them.
      Then you went on to discuss the need of having influential leaders who must have certain capacities to meet the challenges of the new and emerging business climate.

      You highlighted two great capacities- adaptive capacity and dynamic capacity and defined both very well. I might think of other capacities such as influencing capacity and risk-taking capacity.

      I greatly enjoyed reading your brilliant comment my friend. Thank you

    • I submitted earlier today my new post for BIZCATALYST dearAldo titled Like Breeds Like in which I quoted your comment.

      I am very grateful for your inspiration my friend.

  2. I love the idea ot leaving the “sweetness” of our younger years as humans (while one must acknowledge that there are a lot of kids in the world that have anything it but sweet), for the saltiness that comes with growing up and evolving. Adaptability is in my opinion a great leadership skill, and also, as Denni’s post implies, the opennes to receive whatever may come our way. I recently read somewhere, that great leadership arises from CURIOUSITY (having an open mind), COMPASSION (having an open Heart) and COURAGE (having open will). I can’t speak for the salmon leader, but I do know a few great leaders that embody these qualities and who can really adjust and course correct with extreme ease and without loosing people’s belief in them.

    • You never diappoint youer readers with your high quality comments my friend Leticia

      The beauty of your comment is that it reflects on who you are. A woman with Curiosity. Compassion and Courage to learn, and pass your knowledge to others willingly.

      The 3-Cs you mention are so relevant to the needs of leaders today.
      In my post titled Fractalleadership I cover many 3Cs that make good leaders today. These include courage, commitment, clarity, commitment among others.

    • Great surprise to read your thoughts, Eva.

      Yes, we are on the same wave link I could not agree more with you that challenges make us alert and awaken our senses to grow us. Yes, life may get saltier, but we also need to adapt faster.

  3. Ali,
    This is such an important and critical question:
    “The big question that comes to my mind- with determined direction do we need to have a plan in an ever-changing business environment? Or, should we experience daily what we do and adjust accordingly.”
    I believe that planning is critical – it is hard to have a direction without a compass. But the nugget of truth sits with “adjusting accordingly”. The best leaders I have worked with don’t react, but respond to what is being called to change.
    Listening, observing, responding and adjusting… is a pretty solid compass.

    • This is an amazing comment, Carolyn.

      I love the way you defined what compass is. With such rapidity of change and the need to adjust what portion of the original plan stays valid? The problem is that when we plan and find that the original plan keeps changing we may react with disappointment and feel that we are not planners.
      The reverse is true. When we keep on “Listening, observing, responding and adjusting” we are agile and open to change and the plan does not stop us from changing.

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