Humans are the ultimate adaptation machine

Tom Bilyeu, on the James Altucher podcast:

When you see somebody with six-pack abs and they say “I used to be a 100 pounds heavier”, you call B.S. until you see the before-and-after photo. But what’s the before-and-after photo of a mind? That becomes really difficult.

But I can tell you stories…

When I started in business (…) I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I didn’t understand business. I am not a born entrepreneur in any shape, way, or form. I definitely meet minimum requirements, though. I am smart enough. Okay, so once you’re smart enough — you can learn anything you want. You just have to put in the time.

Humans are the ultimate adaptation machine. More than any other species, we can adapt to our environment, we can adapt to stressors. You can put yourself in any environment, you can get good at it — if you have the will to do the work.

I have the will to do the work. I know how to want something. I know how to start with “I’m interested” and turn it into an all-consuming blaze of desire. It’s cultivated. And I believe anyone can do it. You have to know how to fan the flames, you have to know how to self-congratulate, you have to know how to self-punish… all of that… but all I do is say: “I’m going to DECIDE I want this thing.”


You have to get to the nature of things. The reason that I’m always telling people that “humans are the ultimate adaptation machine” is — humans lead with belief. You’re never going to take an action to which you don’t believe you will ever get a positive result.

But if you believe, “Oh, nothing special has to be true of me, I just have to accept that I am a human, and humans are adaptation machines.” That’s literally what we’re designed to do. So just because I’m not good at something today doesn’t mean I can’t be good at it tomorrow.

And that was that first belief that allowed me to start down the path of really developing a growth mindset, building out a set of skills that was valuable.

I believed that my efforts would be rewarded just by the fact that I’m a human, and that’s how the human brain works. You do something over and over and over, and you get better at it. You certainly get more efficient. And then if you can train well, then you can really improve.

So, because I simply believed that that is true of the human animal, I don’t have to think anything unique about me, it’s just — that’s the way this works. If I put the energy in, I’m going to get a result.

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