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14 Signs Of An Adaptable Person

The need for adaptability has never been greater than it is now. The ability for people, teams and organizations to adapt to changes in their environments, stay relevant and avoid obsolescence is the defining characteristic between success and failure, growth and stagnation, business and bankruptcy. To stay relevant as an organization you need to think and act adaptively (is that a word?); you need the right people in the right places which only comes from how leaders shape their environments. However, the internal processes within that environment are driven by individuals who are willing and able to adapt to that leader’s directives when called upon. The trend I see is common: an unwillingness to adopt something new simply because of all the “newness” surrounding it, and this unwillingness typically stems from a number of factors: lack of self-/situational awareness, poor communication, unclear decisions, ego, lack of accountability. So, what does an “adaptable person” look like? Here are

1. Adaptable people experiment.

To adapt you must be open to change, which means you must have the will—emotional tolerance, mental fortitude, spiritual guidance—to not only face uncertainty but smack it in the face and press on.

2. Adaptable people see opportunity where others see failure.

To adapt is to grow, to change, and to change you must forego what you once believed to be “right,” classify it as "wrong," and then adopt what you now believe to be the new “right.” If you don’t, you stagnate. This is something that not only individuals but organizations struggle with—habits that have defined their success in the past rather than questioning whether or not those same habits will continue defining success in the future. Chances are, they won’t. If they did, then Blockbuster, Borders, and every other company that failed to adapt to a “new right” (i.e. new reality) would still be in business.

3. Adaptable people are resourceful.

You can take away a person’s resources, but you can’t remove resourcefulness. Rather than getting stuck on one solution to solve a problem, adaptable people have a contingency plan in place for when Plan A doesn’t work. In other words…(see next)

4. Adaptable people think ahead.

Always open to opportunity (see below), adaptable people are always on the lookout for improvement; minor tweaks that will turn ordinary into extra-ordinary because they’re not married to the one-size-fits-all solution.

5. Adaptable people don't whine.

If they can’t change or influence a decision, they--yup, you guessed it--adapt and move on.

6. Adaptable people talk to themselves. But not in a weird way. When they feel their blood pressure rising, their teeth coming together and their fists clenching, they flip the “mental switch” through self-talk. Engaging in positive self-talk is the single greatest habit you can learn for yourself.

7. Adaptable people don't blame.

They’re not a victim to external influences because they’re proactive. To adapt to something new you must forego the old. Adaptable people don’t hold grudges or eschew blame needlessly but instead absorb, understand and move on.

8. Adaptable people don’t claim fame.

They don’t care about the limelight because they know it’ll soon burn out. Rather than wasting effort on a temporary issue, they shift their focus to the next obstacle to get ahead of the game so that when everybody else finally jumps on board, they’ve already moved on to the next challenge.

9. Adaptable people are curious.

Without curiosity, there is no adaptability. Adaptable people learn—and keep learning. Curiosity enables growth; it pulls you along, as opposed to willpower, which pushes you forward. Willpower only lasts so long as you like being pushed. Does anybody like being pushed? Didn’t think so.

10. Adaptable people adapt.

How’s that for defining a definition with its own definition?

11. Adaptable people stay current.

If you want to adapt to change you must know what to adapt to and why it’s important. Communication is at the heart of everything we do, and adaptable people realize the impact their words, tone and body language have on others which is why they plug-and-play according to the personalities involved.

12. Adaptable people see systems.

No, not systems of stars or galaxies (was I way off on that one?). What I mean is adaptable people see the entire forest rather than just a few trees. They have to, otherwise they would lack the repertoire of context from which they base their decisions on to adapt.

13. Adaptable people open their minds.

If you’re not willing to listen to others’ points of view then you’ll be limited in your thinking, which means you’ll also be limited in your adaptability. The more context you have, the more choices that position you toward change.

14. Adaptable people know what they stand for.

The choice to change isn’t an easy one, however neither is the choice to remain the same. Choosing to adapt to something new and forego the old requires a strong understanding of personal values; knowing what’s important to you—and what isn’t—that cajoles you along the pathway of adaptability.



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