With undertones in the media and in conversations with people the last few days, it appears we are inching towards our state and perhaps our country being fully quarantined. Does this bother me? Not really, and I have a number of reasons why.

My first reason is due to the fact I see infinite possibilities with having time I did not expect to have to work on projects that even on a digital list, I felt were accumulating dust. My second reason is I also have time to catch up with people who are usually in transit, or on the other side of the world.  I now know where they are, and can get in touch with them! The third reason is I feel much more creative and full of hope about what is ahead for all of us.

Now, back to discussing being adaptable. Is this a trait that can be taught? Sure. Although some people are naturally more adaptable than others. I bet you can also name a few people who are this way. Are they people you enjoy working with or having in your life? Of course, they are. They tend to be the type of people who go with the flow. In the current state our world is in, we need to call upon more of these people to help us. Especially, to help the people who are the opposite of them.

Being flexible is one of the many words to also describe people who are adaptable. In my professional opinion and through observations, when someone is flexible, it also provides them with more opportunities.  Both professionally and personally.

A fantastic workplace example of someone who exhibited adaptability characteristics was a person I was once interviewing. We ended eventually hiring this person, but they were our second-choice candidate. The first person ended up declining our offer, and we went back to the second candidate who was thrilled to have an offer extended to him. He needed to be flexible with our terms of hiring, and he was. This made choosing him as a second-choice candidate feel like an even better decision. He also demonstrated continued flexibility as an employee, and his early signs of being this way represented him authentically.  

Are there ways you can either become or be perceived to be more adaptable? Absolutely. Here are some suggestions on how to go about doing so:

  • The next time someone asks you to help them, do so, and without any excuses.
  • Give other people an opportunity to be in the spotlight at work, or put them in the spotlight by being a spokesperson for how valuable their contributions are to your team.
  • Consider doing that “task” others are always asking you to do on your team that you always avoid doing. Surprise them and show them that you aren’t “Captain No”.
  • Agree to meet in the middle. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, as long as it doesn’t get you in trouble or harm others.
  • Think about why you might not be adaptable. Is it because you are stubborn? Do you think your reputation might be tarnished or improved with being more flexible? Perhaps you are afraid to fail? Or, worse, succeed?
  • Have you always been inflexible? Is this a label you want to have applied to you?
  • Consider someone you know who would be described as being adaptable. What are the reasons others would classify them this way? Can you try modeling and applying one or more of these qualities to how you go about your life or the work you do?
  • It will take time and practice to become more flexible, just like it does when you begin to workout at the gym. It’s the same concept with personality adaptability.

Let’s face it. Superpowers are not easy to come by, and certainly not everyone can master and have this one applied when others are describing them. Maybe not all the time, but perhaps some of the time.

As I noted in the hiring example above, I have questions that I have used and asked candidates to help me determine whether adaptability is one of their traits. These same questions can be configured to apply them to people you interact with on a social basis too. If you are interested in finding out what they are, please let me know.

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