Are You Adaptable?

What does is mean to be adaptable, and why is it important?  This is one of the skills I see holding many people back from achieving what they are capable of.  It manifests itself in statements like “I don’t know how to do that”, or “that would be too hard”, or simply displaying poor results when taking on a new challenge.

Adaptability means being open to ANY new challenge or changing situation, regardless of your background and skills, and refusing to place preconceived judgments on the challenge or presume it’s something you can’t handle, or won’t like.  Unfortunately most people have a problem with that; they get comfortable in a certain role, whether that’s career or social interactions.  If things are too comfortable for you all the time, ask yourself if you’re avoiding challenges that may make life more interesting and rewarding?

Being adaptable can lead to great things; such as career growth, learning new skills, better relationships, and generally being happier when you see what you truly are capable of.  You may not always know where a new life situation will lead, but if you approach it with a positive attitude, and give it your best effort, it will usually have a positive result down the road.

Being adaptable is more than just saying “yes” when offered a new challenge, it also means striving for excellence every step of the way.  You may need to research on the Internet, read books, ask others about it, practice, create a plan of action, or other things depending on it’s nature.  This is a key quality of a good leader, in that they can take self responsibility to learn about something and prepare for it.  The opposite are those who simply wait around for someone to show them how to do it, or just figure they will “wing it”.

Another term for adaptability is “flexibility”.  Look at your own career, do you often say “that’s just how we do it” if someone suggests a better way to do something? Or do you open you mind to new ideas, even if it may take effort to change current practices, and potentially a hard time convincing others?  It’s ultimately your choice whether to just ride through life always taking the easiest course of action, or rise to challenges few others will take on, and feel better about what you are able to accomplish and do for others, build your skills, and show the world what you are capable of.

Another aspect of adaptability is keeping pace with external change.  Life is all about change, and if you don’t keep pace with that change you will be left behind.  This is very true with many careers, where you must constantly keep abreast of the latest research, new products, and new techniques.  Would you want to see a doctor who finished medical school 20 years ago and hadn’t bothered to keep up with all the new findings in the last 20 years?  Are you keeping up with the latest knowledge if your own career field?

Challenge yourself this week on adaptability by thinking about something new that’s come into your life which you’ve resisted, whether it’s at work, in your social life, around the house, or just something you know you should learn how to do but have resisted it.  Take on the challenge with maximum excellence and perseverance, and see how you do!