“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances as water molds itself to the picther.” ~ Chinese Proverb
Adaptability is an important skill and learning to accept your circumstances and roll with the punches is a key aspect of building resilience. Now, more than ever, it is something you should go out of your way to cultivate.
The world is constantly changing, the workplace is constantly changing, family life is constantly changing. The only way to deal with that is by becoming an adaptable person who accepts things are they are.
The ability to step outside of your comfort zone and continuously learn and adapt is the key to succeeding. It’s the main difference between a successful, resilient person and a person who is neither.
Think about the number of times you have made a mistake, a mistake you have made because you couldn’t adapt to a situation. You applied the same old solutions to a problem. It got you nowhere.
One of the reasons we are guilty of this is because of how our brains process information. As we grow up, we create a behavioral script for typical actions, from tying our shoes to washing the dishes. It becomes entrenched. It’s like your impulse to duck when something is flying towards you.
These scripts are supposed to simplify the world and make us efficient. The problem is that they don’t just influence your behavior, they influence how you perceive the world and what you believe. If something is inconsistent with the script, we experience problems. They push us to ignore the reality in a situation. We ignore red flags and signals and our automated behaviors backfire.
What Is Adaptability
It’s a soft skill that boils down to this – you can change course, approach, or actions when faced with change. You essentially have the ability to change the way you do things to accommodate a new situation. Our lives are constantly changing because the world is always changing.
A great example of adaptability would be a shortage of a particular commodity within the market. When that shortage presents itself, we simply change the demand and find a substitute.
It isn’t simply about adjusting or changing in a situation. It’s all-encompassing, having the ability to effect change and doing so smoothly without experiencing major hiccups or setbacks.
As long as we breathe, we will always be faced with uncontrollable factors. You can’t control the behavior of others; you can’t influence every situation or circumstance. To be highly adaptable you must accept that you only have control over yourself, including your mindset, attitude, thoughts, and actions.
Therefore, adaptability is entirely in your hands. It’s up to you to adopt a positive mindset, it’s up to you to bounce back and find a solution when faced with change. Adaptability is a necessary skill.
It’s easy to downplay the importance of adaptability. Yet, it’s a key skill at the highest levels of success. No company would be complete without an adaptable team. Think about your job or the technology you use at home.
There’s a process change or an operating system update. Suddenly, you are faced with a new way of doing things. With the former, it’s a new process or operation to learn. With the latter, it’s overcoming the annoying way they have moved things around and you keep clicking on the wrong application.
Some people will complain about it and hold themselves back from figuring things out. Yet, if you can’t adapt to the changes you are only going to hold yourself back. Adaptability is key.
The Benefits of Adaptability
So, why does adaptability matter? In short, it’s a skill you need to increase resilience and navigate life. There are several benefits of adaptability.
Tackle Challenges More Effectively
One of the biggest benefits of adaptability is how it influences your ability to work without boundaries. What does that mean? That you are open to unexpected and diverse solutions. That you are prepared to deal with whatever challenges may come your way.
When you work without limitations placed on your actions and thoughts, a challenge isn’t something to dread. Instead, it becomes an opportunity. Adaptable people are willing and happy to engage with people to get things done. They are adept at building a strong support network and are far more capable.
Improved Leadership Qualities
Whether you are in a leadership position or not, being a leader is a good thing. Every great leader recognizes the inevitability of change. They don’t shy away from change, they embrace it. When faced with adversity, they maintain a positive attitude. They can keep their team motivated and focused even in the most difficult of situations.
Strong leaders are considerate and open-minded. They recognize that solutions can come from a multitude of places. They do not disregard potential solutions, if it’s viable, it doesn’t matter the source. At the core of these traits is adaptability, and that is the core of resilience.
You’re Forever Relevant
When you are willing to adapt and change, when you are willing to tackle things in unconventional ways, then you will always be relevant. A lot of people are left behind by changes in the world. Adaptable people don’t get left behind. Whether it means being open to a new way of doing things around the house, coping with changes in the workplace, or coping with loss, adaptability will carry you through.
How To Cultivate Adaptability
Adaptability sounds great, but how you cultivate this and a level of acceptance? Luckily, it’s a soft skill you can develop at any stage in the game of life. Let’s talk about how.
Take Lessons From Others
Take a look around at the people you know. Who do you admire? Do you appreciate the way Liz consistently delivers results? Are you baffled by Dani’s ability to remain unflappable in the face of chaos? Is there just something about how Charlie deals with change?
Take lessons from the people around you. When you see people, who adapt well in every situation, start taking notes on how they do it. Talk to them about how they maintain their adaptability and learn from people.
Look For the Silver Lining
One of the most effective ways to cultivate adaptability is by looking for the silver lining. When you can find the positive in a situation that isn’t going as you planned, you boost your adaptability and resilience. It might be hard to do, especially when there was a missed deadline, loss, or a serious problem. However, it is possible. There is ALWAYS a silver lining, even if it is just the end result of personal growth when dealing with very serious adversity.
To do this, you must take a step back and put your objectivity glasses on. If this is something you struggle with, start taking notes through the process, and record the lessons you have learned on the way. This will be a helpful part of your review, but it will also highlight positives and lessons to learn.
Let’s be honest, no one on this planet is a perfect person. Anyone pretending otherwise is doing just that – pretending. Mistakes are an important part of the human process. We live and we learn.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It might feel humiliating in the moment, it might be frustrating, but let yourself make mistakes and take the lesson moving forward. The mistake matters much less than how you bounce back and what you learn from the situation. In terms of cultivating adaptability and acceptance, making mistakes is key.
Always Ask Questions
You can’t cultivate adaptability just by embracing change. You have to be prepared to ask questions, too. It’s the only way to find innovative solutions and roll with the punches. It takes questioning and debate to overcome problems and succeed.
A key aspect of adaptability is asking questions to learn more. If you have to challenge the established methods of practice, then you can’t do it without questioning everything.
- If you find yourself shooting down ideas, take a break. You have to question what scripts are influencing your response. Remember, your mental scripts are automatic, so much so that you have to make an intentional decision to challenge them.
- You have to distinguish between inference and observation, conjecture, and fact. Your mental scripts can influence conjecture and inference. You have to be the voice that points to facts. You have to be strong enough to question conjecture and inference to determine whether it’s valid or being influenced by your mental scripts.
- Are you someone who goes by the book? There’s a good chance your parents did the same or at least raised you to be that type of person. Here’s the thing – people who go by the book tend to struggle with change and have trouble adapting. They are so rooted in their ways, that the slightest change feels like a personal attack. Change is inevitable, and it’s possible to be flexible with the book. Remember that, processes and procedures can be updated and improved.
- Have you ever gone out of your way to push the envelope? This is an intentional way we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Guess what happens when you push the envelope? You grow. It doesn’t matter what environment you exist in, you have to be prepared to push the envelope, whether it means giving up old ideas to embrace a new process or decreasing how much you rely on a job title to get things done. Adaptability is all about personal growth and transformation.
- When you are in a job, position, or situation for a long period of time, you grow accustomed to it. You fall in line with the status quo and you get comfortable. You rarely challenge things to move forward, grow, and improve. Put yourself in a new hire’s shoes. Imagine you walked out on your job and a brand new person took over your position. What changes would they make to improve it? What’s stopping you from making these changes? Just you.
- The ability to solve problems and adapt to change is vital in today’s environment. Everything is constantly changing. You must be open to new ideas, be adaptable in challenging situations, handle unexpected demands, and change your strategy at a moment’s notice. It’s a challenging world we live in, but with a little bit of adaptability – the sky’s the limit.
Adaptability might be a soft skill, but it isn’t one that’s just nice to have. Ultimately, it provides you with a clear competitive advantage in every aspect of life and contributes to your resiliency levels. This skill allows you to adapt quickly to setbacks, changes, and challenges, which allows you to overcome any obstacles you face in life.
How adaptable are you?
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