Among all the greatest assets needed for work, relationships, and life—is this one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Let me be blunt. Adaptability, now more than ever, is essential. Change has been coming at record pace. Some change is not our choice; it’s required. And some change we get to design, innovate, and build. Either way, adaptability is at the top of the list: above knowledge, creative thinking dexterities, communication skills, negotiation talents or social proficiencies.
In the business world, adaptability means one is able to quickly respond to changing trends, innovation, destabilization, industry shifts and so forth. This 2020 pandemic is separating the adaptable companies from the ones who cling to the way it has always been done. The same is true of non-profits, churches, government agencies and more.
Adaptability also applies to our personal lives, our families and friendships. Are you adaptable? In his article in Forbes entitled, “14 Signs of an Adaptable Person,” Jeff Boss identifies the following traits of adaptable people: they experiment, see opportunity where others see failures, they are resourceful, they think ahead, don’t whine, talk to themselves, and don’t blame others. They also don’t claim fame, are curious, open their minds, see systems, and stay current.
Did you realize you can train yourself to be more adaptable? If adaptability and flexibility aren’t your most natural traits, you can be intentional about increasing this asset in your skill portfolio. Let me suggest several.
Intentionally Adjust Your Thought Process. Be purposeful about letting go of the “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality. While change can be scary and intimidating, work at embracing it and look at change as an opportunity to improve, learn, and grow. It can open the door to creativity as well. This also means, however, being open to the thoughts and opinions of others and different perspectives.
Challenge Yourself Toward Risk-Taking. Little progress is made without risk. For some, the idea of risk is so adverse that they will run from it as fast as they can, but taking risks is key to being adaptable. Start small. If you always order the same thing on a menu at the same restaurant, order something new. And then try a new restaurant the next time to increase the comfort of risk-taking. Buy a bold-colored shirt or blouse that is outside your go-to color palette. Mix up your morning routine. Whatever. Try stepping outside your comfort zone. Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Embrace Learning. As noted in the Forbes article above, people who are curious and stay current tend to be adaptable. This means you need to chase learning. Read up about new technologies and protocols in your chosen career. Attend classes or sign up for webinars and blogs in a new area of interest. Read an article or book from another field you know very little about. Connect with colleagues who have adaptability and learn from them, read what they read, etc.
Pursue Humility. Increasing this top-of-the-list asset of adaptability requires humility. Arrogance ignores and rejects ideas from others – humility welcomes them. Closed ears indicate arrogant hearts. Inflexible people think they know everything they need to know. Humility drives us toward improvement through learning. My greatest hero is Jesus. Here’s how He lived: Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Philippians 2:5-8 (The Living Bible). Humility is not only the way of Jesus and for His followers, it is common sense. None of us is an expert in everything, so we understand our limits and thus need unpretentiousness. Humility is also generative. It leads to new ideas. Humility has been formative for scientific investigation and for business theory and practice. The position of humility is where flourishing happens. Humility breeds adaptability.
Adaptability flows out of humility, learning, risk-taking and intentional adjustment of our thought processes. Which of one of these four will you be intentional about today? (share it in the comment section below)