The ability of an individual or enterprise to adapt has been called the new competitive advantage. When discovered, we can use them to forge new sorts of life and careers. Adaptability is one of man’s greatest strengths, and it is a skill anybody can learn with time, and consciously so. Adaptability creates stability.
Being adaptable means not feeling hopeless and helpless in the face of uncertainty. We only have to change and challenge our thought process by adjusting our thoughts and expectations to suit our new realities, rather than dwelling on ‘what could have been’.
Being adaptable also means you change yourself to accommodate your circumstances. This means you spend less time trying to change your circumstances, which may or may not work, and more time adjusting your own attitude and expectations.
When you anticipate changes and adjust your attitude and expectations accordingly, changes don’t need to disorient you, they become just another expected part of life.
As an entrepreneur, you’re bound to face situations that require you to make quick decisions about whether or not to change course. If you’re not able to pivot quickly, your actions could hurt your business. In reality, most companies we are envious of didn’t execute a single brilliant master plan.
They are flexibly persistent: they start companies that are true to their values and vision, yet they remain flexible enough to adapt. Someone said, ‘Great companies go through stops and starts, a couple near-death experiences, and a great deal of adaptation.’
Adaptable people are resilient people. Dean Becker, an expert in resiliency has the view that our success in life is built on our ability to adapt. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, ‘The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.’ Whenever life knocks you down, bouncing back will become easy when you are adaptable. Being adaptable ensures you stay afloat when adversities of life try to sink you down. Instead of running away from reality, you embrace it and flow with it.
Now more than ever before, leaders all over the world are facing change and complexity — the coronavirus pandemic has presented us all with new challenges, new circumstances, and new uncertainties. Jobs are morphing, shrinking, and disappearing; co-workers, teammates, and technology are changing.
Like someone put it, ‘To survive and thrive in a rapidly changing world, businesses need to keep up to stay on top.’ Every area of business faces the challenge of keeping up with the breakneck speed of change, particularly technological change.
Adaptability is a skill needed to prevail through in these times of uncertainty. Don’t get too attached to a single plan or strategy. Have an adaptive mindset that can get Plan B and/or C at the ready when needed. That is to say when you have no resources, you create them.
When you have no choice but to fight, you fight hard. When you have no choice but to create, you create. When faced with change and uncertainty, accept the change as positive; see the change as an opportunity; adapt plans as necessary; sort out your strengths and weaknesses fairly accurately; admit personal mistakes, learn from them, move on, and remain optimistic.
I want to conclude this with these words from Melissa Cory the director of Executive and Professional Education at Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University.
She said, ‘Those who remain flexible and have the opportunity to adapt their thinking and behavior to circumstances possess an important skill.’ The same added, ‘Turning moments of change into opportunity, however, means we need to be ready to embrace change, create a network that supports us and tools that help us navigate this change.’