Becoming More Adaptable

We’re all adaptable for the small things in life. If the grocery store is out of something, we substitute or make something else for dinner. If a road is blocked, we take detour or turn around and go another way. If the shirt we thought we thought we wanted to wear is dirty, we wear a clean shirt. (Ok, some of you wear a dirty shirt!)

It’s the big things in life that often throw us for a loop. Changing jobs. Dealing with the changes life throws at us. Many of those changes we seek. Some we don’t. Even the ones we seek, such as new jobs, don’t always go the way we expect. When that happens, we need to adapt—and fast.

If you want to increase your adaptability, consider these options:

  1. Reframe the obstacle into an opportunity to practice a new skill. When I was working with a guy who didn’t particularly like me and wanted to make life difficult for me in the organization many years ago. I referred to him as my “friend and colleague.” That helped me see him as someone who might have problems of his own he was trying to solve rather than someone who just hated my guts.
  2. Think about what a small success could be. What can you do and what kind of feedback do you need? In the case of my vertigo, a small success is often walking across the room without falling over :-) Once I mastered that, it was standing for an entire talk. Now, it’s standing for an entire talk and walking around while I speak.
  3. Can you do something good enough for now? What can you do for now, that gets you closer to your goal? What one thing will help you today? For my vertigo, that often translates to exercise. For writing, it translates to a blog post. For a book, it’s fieldstone. What is it for you?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.” a paraphrase of Darwin in the writings of Leon C. Megginson

You might want perfection, but adaptability means that you are able to live with what you’ve got for now. What can you do today, that helps you become a little more adaptable?

6 thoughts on “Becoming More Adaptable

  1. YvesHanoulle

    Hello Johanna,

    I have long said the same ting . Reframe a problem in challenge.
    These days I wonder why do we do this? Why not feel better about problems or failures?
    What is wrong with a failing or problems?
    I personally see problems as something positive.
    I came to think that reframing feels like hiding. I never like it when people hide problems at work. Reframing feels the same.

    I think we are on the same page, only I take this one step further. Instead of using another word, I prefer the situation. Have people feel better about problems.


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