What is Adaptability?
Adaptability (from the Latin root adapto which means fit or matching) is the highly desirable ability to adjust easily and effectively to change. It is being open to modifying your attitudes and behaviors to meet the demands of the situation. It is being flexible, versatile, and resilient.
Adaptability is also one of the defining characteristics of the Orange (SP) temperament, and a virtue that, when emulated by the other colors, will lead to greater success in personal and business relationships.
How Adaptable Are You?
Answer “yes” or “no” to the following 10 questions. If you are able to answer “yes” to 7 or more questions, you are well on your way to mastering this important virtue.
- I am able to shift gears without a lot of friction and resistance.
- I am good at bouncing back from challenges.
- I am often the instigator of change.
- I don’t take myself too seriously and often laugh at my own mistakes.
- I see barriers as temporary hurdles to overcome.
- I try to transform misfortune into good fortune.
- I view myself and my world with optimism and confidence.
- I’m able to roll with the punches and recover emotionally from setbacks and losses.
- I’m able to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty.
- I don’t need detailed instructions. Just point me in the right direction.
Why Adaptability is a Good Thing
In today’s unpredictable marketplace, change seems to be a constant part of every business. Employers want to hire versatile employees who can meet the demands of whatever situation they are placed in. They want employees who can handle emergency or crisis situations and solve problems creatively. Supervisors are far more likely to promote workers who can adjust their attitudes and behaviors to work effectively with different ideas, people, and situations. They reward employees who are able to accept and deal with changing priorities, better ideas, new policies, and different methods.
In personal relationships, adaptability also pays off handsomely because you are able to get along better with all types of people. You are able to adjust what you say and do to make interactions with other people run more smoothly and effectively. You are more likely to bounce back from disappointment, let go of anger, overcome discouragement, and avoid depression. You are more fun to be around because you are willing to go with the flow and accommodate the preferences of other people. You are genuinely optimistic and able to keep moving forward even in difficult and challenging times.
The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings. — Kakuzo Okakura
How to Become More Adaptable
Activity #1. Once a week do something that is breaks away from your normal routines and is completely uncharacteristic of your dominant temperament. For example, if you’re primarily Gold, perhaps you can go somewhere on a whim (Orange), keep a diary of your thoughts and feelings (Blue), or play a game of chess (Green).
Activity #2. Read articles, reports, or books written by people who have an opposing viewpoint. For example, if you are politically conservative, read some radically progressive literature. As you read, practice your empathy skills and try to think about and understand the person’s beliefs, values, and motives.
Activity #3. Find someone who has a reputation for being adaptable and let them be your mentor. Carefully observe their attitudes and behaviors for a while. Keep notes on what they do, and don’t do. Then, as soon as you can, start emulating those behaviors. Ask your mentor for feedback and, if needed, a pep talk. Keep on practicing until you feel confident and begin to experience success.
Activity #4. Practice solving problems and making decisions in high-pressure situations. For example, if you have trouble thinking when things are noisy and chaotic, try making decisions someplace that is noisy and chaotic, like a crowded restaurant, a busy airport, or a packed sports stadium. Keep doing this until you are able to focus on the problem and tune out the distractions. Then start to reduce the amount of time you give yourself to come up with a solution.