John Templeton’s fourth economic virtue is adaptability. He outlined this and the other economic virtues and vices in his speech to Buena Vista College, “The Religious Foundation of Liberty and Enterprise.”
Just as there are many ways to be charitable, there are many ways people can contribute to society. That is why we need to be able to understand the fast pace at which society changes, to roll with the punches, be willing to change, and why we need to understand the fourth economic virtue: the virtue of adaptability.
The state of the world is never static and never homogeneous. Every day is unique and requires a unique response from all of us. The entrepreneur responds to this uniqueness by always evaluating his investments and current concerns. He is ready and eager to meet changing circumstances.
The consumer too must be eager and adjust to modern realities. Laborers need to understand that they can not always get the kind of salaries they want or the particular job they want.
Most of us at some point in our lives will suffer disappointments, get fired from a job, have our wages cut, or be asked to make undesirable career moves. We may be called to change our occupations or undergo some kind of retraining. We must learn to adapt. New challenges help us to grow.
The world is a world of endless diversity, and therein lies its essential beauty. There is no need to long for what has passed. Rather, we must welcome progress and attempt to make the world the best place it can be. In confronting our economy, we must strike the right balance between the arrogant desire to mold everything that surrounds us to our own image, and the equal and opposite error of fatalism and resignation.
Businesses must learn to hire and promote new and different types of people, to serve new kinds of clientele, to look at new and different was of doing things. It is a virtue to learn to welcome progress and tum the occasion into a blessing.
People with an extraordinary amount of ambition will always have special difficulties with the virtue of adaptability. Why? Because there will always be someone out there with more talent, more drive, and even more ambition. If these people can learn to welcome this and adapt, they can lead better and more satisfied lives.
How can we do all this? How can we learn to practice the virtue of adaptability? We must learn to celebrate changes, differences, surprises, and diversity as attributes of beauty.
Ridding ourselves of the economic vices and adopting the economic virtue of adaptability, we should strive to see the complex world as a place of increasing beauty and opportunity.