by Dr. Ichak Adizes

In my lectures, I talk about the importance of solving problems faster than the competition does. To illustrate, I tell a joke about two people who go on a walking safari in Africa. Out of the corner of their eyes, they see a lion approaching. One of the walkers – let us call him “J” – immediately changes into his running shoes.

“Why are you putting on your running shoes?” the other man asks. “You can’t outrun a lion!”

“I am not trying to outrun the lion,” “J” replies. “I am just trying to outrun you!!!”

“So, who will succeed?” I ask at this point in my lecture, raising my voice for emphasis. “Those who adapt to the changing environment faster than the others.”

How does this story apply to the Jewish people and anti-Semitism?

During the past two weeks I lectured in Russia, where I received an honorary doctorate. There, a dean at one of the schools – not a drunken actor nor, on the surface at least, an anti-Semite – told me and my wife that all problems, all wars, are because of the Jews. “Karl Marx was a Jew. Lenin was a Jew,” he claimed. “And Trotsky for sure was a Jew – and look what they did to the world,” he said, raising his hands in despair. And he was serious.

That made me think.

For the past two thousand years, we, the Jews, have seen many, many threatening lions approaching. We have been threatened with gas, fire, beheading, rape, inquisition, expulsion and loss of our property. If there is a nation with the longest record of being under threat of extinction, it is the Jews.
So in response, we have developed an incredible built-in “antenna” to monitor an incoming threat or opportunity, and we are faster on our feet than any other ethnic group. We are very intense, aren’t we?

I can identify the Jewish participants in my classes. They are the most aware, most challenging, most “awake.” We can almost feel incoming changes in our bones, and can identify the opportunities or threats ahead of any other ethnic group. And we act faster, because we are always afraid that our survival is at stake.
It is a well-known joke that Jewish mothers want their children to be doctors. Why? “Why,” I asked my own mother, “do you want me to be a doctor?” “Because you can be a medical doctor anywhere in the world,” she answered seriously. In other words, in order to survive, it is best to have a profession that is useful anywhere in the world. Just in case.
Jews have multiple passports. Just in case. Speak many languages. Just in case. Have extended families and friends all over the globe. Just in case. Dedicate themselves to being well educated. Why? Because knowledge will save you when you are forced to move to a new and alien place and find a way to survive.

Because we respond to change faster and better than other ethnic groups, we end up leading change and eventually becoming the leaders in that field or industry. Thus it is not strange that many of the Russian revolutionary Communists were Jews. They led the change. I am just now reading a book about Tito of Yugoslavia, written by Yugoslav historians, and they claim that the brain behind Yugoslav Communism was Mosha Pijade, another Jew.

But this phenomenon is not applicable only to Communism. Jews are now the leading capitalists of post-Communist Russia. We lead in all fields in which change requires a response that creates new opportunities for leadership to emerge. In all fields where Jews get involved, they start out as the innovators and end up as the leaders. The more change, the better we do. We were the first in motion pictures. Warner Bros. and Goldwyn and Mayer were all Jews. Las Vegas was invented by a Jewish gangster. We have been leaders in medicine, in art, in literature, in business, in economics and even as gangsters.

Even if we are prohibited from going into a field (by quotas, for example), when we are eventually allowed in, after many years, we are such fierce competitors that we leave the others behind to be chewed by the lion. We identify the changes that need to be made, lead those changes, and end up on top again.

As the changes in this world accelerate, the Jews will prosper more and more, outpacing others who are still wondering what is happening and what to do about it.

But this success has a price. As Machiavelli said, “Nothing is more difficult than to introduce a new order. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.” In other words, if you want to be hated, try leading change.

How do you think the guy being chewed by the lion feels about “J,” who escaped? As he lies there bleeding, do you think he applauds “J’s” escape? And if he survives the lion, what is he going to do to “J” when they meet again?

Just as the Jews learned to run faster than anyone else, the world learned to suspect and resent them, even before the lion showed up on the scene.

As changes accelerate, those who are more aware, more flexible and creative, more entrepreneurial, will do well. (In Russia, I found out, anyone who is successful economically is called a Jew, no matter what religion he or she may be.) Those who lack these traits will fall into sociological, cultural, or economic traps and end up having less and less. How, then, will they feel about the successful Jews? They will resent those who benefited from the changes and left them behind. More than likely, they will be jealous and seek revenge. Some simple-minded people will even accuse the Jews of bringing the lion in on purpose, in order to steal the meager resources and let the rest be eaten by the lion: “Jews will create wars on purpose because they benefit from it.”

I believe as changes accelerate to unprecedented rates, and as the Jews exploit those changes and succeed, anti-Semitism will flourish to unknown dimensions.

Change, as we know, can lead to problems or opportunities. Whether those changes are problems or opportunities depends on how fast one can adapt and proact. Jews are at their best in dealing with change. That creates jealousy and resentment and can lead to unprecedented tragedies, perhaps even worse than the Holocaust.

I recommend learning Chinese. Seriously.