Embrace And Adapt: 5 Crucial Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Choluteca Bridge


Life Lessons From Choluteca Bridge

Change is inevitable. As change is the only constant, we need to embrace and plan for it, if we wish to survive, thrive & avoid becoming obsolete. This is the lesson we can learn from the Choluteca Bridge.

What is the Choluteca Bridge?

Located in Choluteca city, Honduras, the old Choluteca Bridge, also known as the Carías Bridge, was a national emblem. However, as the old bridge was built during the 1930s, a second new bridge was planned and built in the city in 1998. Entrepreneur Brett Munster explainsThe Honduras government, knowing the bridge was likely to face extreme weather conditions, commissioned some of the best architectural minds in the world to build a bridge that could withstand any hurricane.” 

The new Choluteca Bridge, popularly known as the Bridge of Rising Sun, was 484 meters long and was considered one of the best architectural creations in the country.It was state-of-the-art at the time, providing a much-needed access point for the people of Honduras and was built to withstand the high winds and hurricanes that plagued the region,” adds Brett.

Read also: 7 Life Lessons We Can Learn From The 14th Dalai Lama

The Bridge to Nowhere

Sadly, the same year the new bridge was completed and commissioned for use, a category 5 storm, Hurricane Mitch, hit Honduras. It is the second-deadliest Atlantic hurricane ever which resulted in 11,000 fatalities across Central America. The hurricane resulted in significant damage to the country’s infrastructure. Several structures, including the old Choluteca Bridge were completely damaged. 

However, the new Bridge of Rising Sun survived. The new bridge endured minor and negligible damages and was almost in perfect condition. Brett Munster writes “Honduras was wrecked. However, the Choluteca Bridge stood its ground and survived in near perfect condition. It was an amazing architectural achievement.

The new Choluteca Bridge a.k.a. The Bridge to Nowhere

Unfortunately, the Choluteca River had changed its course and the roads leading upto the bridge were completely damaged due to the hurricane. The roads were no more visible and the 100 metres wide river started flowing through a new channel due to the massive floods that occurred during Hurricane Mitch. Now, the river had moved away from the new choluteca bridge and the structure stood over dry ground. “The Choluteca Bridge no longer stood over the river, rendering it essentially useless,” adds Brett. Soon the bridge became popular as “The Bridge to Nowhere” and stood as an obsolete structure that served no purpose any longer.

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Change is unpredictable

It’s fascinating how things can change so quickly and without any notice. Even though you may be mentally prepared for certain things to change in life, you can never predict how the change will actually affect your reality. 

The key theme in this story is change. Hurricane Mitch changed the course of the river, so the reason for the Choluteca Bridge changed,” says Lillee Smith Gelinas, MSN, RN, FAAN. The designers of the new Choluteca Bridge tried their best to build a state-of-the-art structure that withstood a category 5 storm with minimal damage. But they could never anticipate that the hurricane would make the river flow through a new channel moving away from beneath the bridge. 

Brett Munster writes “This situation demonstrates how even the simplest of assumptions about the state of the world (the location of the river) may prove to be incorrect.” Despite how technologically savvy we are or how well we calculate our future moves, predicting future conditions is never a possibility. This is why the best thing we can do is prepare for the worst-case scenario, be open to change and improvise to the new environment that change creates. 

Author and entrepreneur Suzanne Stavert explainsChange is a good thing, really it is. It means we are alive and moving forward.” She adds “We shouldn’t want to be stagnant, set in our ways. Change means learning, growing and perhaps achieving something we never thought possible!

Read also: The Kubler Ross Change Curve: Understanding The 5 Stages Of Change

Lessons from the Choluteca Bridge

The incidence of the new Choluteca Bridge can help us learn a number of valuable lessons related to change and how we need to embrace it. We encounter, resist and accept change several times in our daily lives. Sometimes we adapt to the change, while at other times we feel frustrated and stressed. Our lives are changing constantly, whether we admit it or not. “Learning from each other is one way – building bridges to each other, sharing, discovering what’s working well for others. These are important aspects of dealing with change,” adds Suzanne.

Here are a few lessons we can learn from what happened with the Choluteca Bridge:

1. We can’t predict nature

Nature operates on its own rules. Whether it’s a storm or the virus plaguing the human race right now, nature will always be unpredictable and offer us both nasty and pleasant surprises.

2. Complacency leads to obsolescence

The Choluteca Bridge became obsolete simply because the river changed its course. Even though the bridge was perfect, it was worthless. The same can be true for employees, entrepreneurs and even businesses. Bank expert Mukundarajan V N explainsIn the business world, such disruptions destabilize existing players who remained complacent about their future. Even the best product may end up without a market.

3. Planning can’t protect against uncertainty

The engineers of the new Choluteca Bridge were determined to build a structure that can survive even the harshest weather conditions. And they succeeded in their goal. However, they did not expect the river to move. This shows that despite our best laid plans, we can never be safe from what’s coming for us. The best thing we can do is embrace it and adapt to it. Mukundarajan adds “Negotiating risk and uncertainty continues to challenge our collective intelligence. We can never provide for random events, however meticulously we may plan and design solutions.

Read also: 17 Signs You Are An Overachiever and How To Let Go

4. The problem-solution matrix

What we believe to be the solution can easily turn into another problem which we need to solve. This is known as the inversion of the problem-solution matrix. Authorities of Choluteca city believed the new bridge would solve their traffic problems and help in crossing the river easily. However, their solution became useless and itself became a glaring problem. The bridge was a massive infrastructure investment which now serves no purpose. 

5. Technology can’t solve everything

Our collective over-reliance on technology as a society is a huge problem that we refuse to acknowledge. Yes, technology has its merits but it cannot solve all our problems. We need to rely on our own instincts, gut feelings and common sense as well when approaching challenges and problems in life. Technology “cannot have an expansive view to consider unexpected glitches and seemingly improbable and extraordinary exigencies,” says Mukundarajan.

Read also: Spiral of Life: Why We Revisit The Same Lessons Of Life Time and Again

Be adaptable, survive & thrive

Today, the world is constantly changing. Despite how much we believe that we are still in control, the truth is, we don’t know how the situation might change tomorrow. The Choluteca Bridge is an excellent metaphor for the uncertainty in our own lives – our relationships, careers, goals and even health. With the world transforming drastically everyday, we need to open our minds even more and adapt to change constantly. We cannot keep holding on to old habits, behaviors and patterns else we might risk becoming obsolete… just like the bridge itself. “Adaptability is the key to survival and resilience,” writes Mukundarajan V N. 

Now is the time for us to make decisions based on what new challenges the future might bring, instead of old habits and behaviors. What we believed to be our strength might soon become useless in a new world. Your education, skill, career, business, product or service can prove to be worthless sooner than you think. And this will leave you feeling lost in a world that praises and lifts those who adapt and change along with the changing times.

What is needed now is the urgency and the will to develop new skills, gain new knowledge, design new products and services based on the ever changing environment. But that’s not all. We constantly need to evaluate our relevance and keep building and upgrading ourselves, your strengths and our abilities. This will help us ensure that we survive and thrive irrespective of how much the market and the world changes.

It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being relevant.

It’s no more about how long you can last. It’s about how well you can adapt.

Unless you work on yourself, your career or your business, learn to adapt fast and find a way to stay relevant constantly, you will soon find yourself on “The Bridge to Nowhere”.

Read also: 15 Prescriptions for Happiness That Will Change Your Life

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