7 Habits of Highly Adaptable People

Adapt or die: truer words have never been said. Thanks to burgeoning technological innovations and instant virality (among other things), change is no longer just another constant in a sea of other unchangeable realities. It’s become a hallmark and a defining feature of the world we live in today.


Against a backdrop as volatile as that, failing to get with the times is career suicide.As Michael Jackson once sang: “if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.” Here’s how.

P.S. Activate your adaptability at work and in life with SSA Academy’s WSQ course on adapting to change at the operations level!


1. Know what you want

Taking note of the dominant current trends in your industry is important, but at the same time, you have to know what you’re looking for.


When it comes to change, the most adaptable people aren’t content with being a jack of all trades and a master of none. Every step they make is calculated and deliberate towards the aim of moving them closer towards their short-term and long-term goals. The same is true of adapting.

Before you make a move to adapt, be clear of what your purpose for it is. Don’t jump in without a vision, a plan, and a contingency plan to guide you along the process of adaptation.

If you haven’t already set SMART goals for your career and your life, do it. Then use it to direct you towards the kind of adaptation that’s most advantageous for you in your situation.


2. Know what you can’t compromise on

Just as you have to know what you hope to achieve by adapting, it’s equally important to know what you won’t compromise. The enthusiasm that often comes with trying something new can often blind a person to the bigger picture. Change is good, but there will always be non-negotiables.

Moral integrity, for example, should never be compromised for the sake of adaptation. Neither should you sacrifice your long-term mental and emotional well-being for it.



3. Attune yourself to your environment

Keep a watchful eye out for all the evolving developments around you on the large and small scales.

Staying abreast of the latest developments in the industry will help you to keep track of changing trends, new disruptions you may need to prepare yourself for, and innovations that could help to streamline operations and optimise productivity and efficiency.


Additionally, make it a habit to observe the people around you at work. Team synergy is often adversely affected by differences in personalities, working styles, and communication styles. These differences may not always be immediately noticeable.

Being cognizant and observant of them can allow you to pre-empt conflicts before they occur and adapt to accommodate your team’s differences for better teamwork and higher performance.


4. Be proactive

Adaptable people don’t sit on their laurels waiting to be swept up by the hurricane winds of change. They take to the winds on their own.

If you’ve identified an essential future skill that you lack but your company isn’t willing to send you for training for whatever reason, do it on your own time and money. Online courses are a-plenty, though be sure to check their accreditation.

Resourcefulness is crucial in proactively seeking the opportunities equip yourself with everything you need to upgrade your skills, stay relevant, and beat the competition.



5. Be willing to empathise

Challenges will sometimes come up out of nowhere, presenting you with complicated dilemmas that obscure the solution from view. When that happens, the willingness to try and take on multiple perspectives in problem-solving can make all the difference.

Whether it’s an unexpected interpersonal conflict between your team members or a sudden shift in consumer demands, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is crucial.

If you take the time and effort to look carefully at all the facets of a problem from each stakeholder’s perspective, you’ll be able to continuously adapt yourself to suit the demands of any problem that will come your way.


6. Be willing to try

So many people get stuck in the quicksands of stagnation because they’re unwilling to accept that their current competencies won’t be sufficient in the coming future.

To adapt, you need to be forward-looking. Your abilities have served you well in the past–which you should be grateful for–but they won’t be enough moving forward.


The fact of the matter is that if you’re planning to keep climbing the corporate ladder, you need to change yourself to suit the different demands you’ll be met with at each rung and at each juncture in time.

Clinging on to the old ways isn’t going to cut it anymore. As long as you refuse to adapt, you’re voluntarily imprisoning yourself to career inertia.


7. Be willing to keep experimenting

As society becomes more and more enamoured with instant gratification, lesser and lesser people are devoting themselves to cultivating their mental and emotional stamina in the long run.

You can’t hope to achieve great success without being committed to continually experimenting. Success requires that you keep trying new methods, new products, and new modes of thinking.


Being afraid to fail will incapacitate you and prevent you from being committed to experimenting. You won’t want to try new things because you’re so scared that they won’t work. Focus on your objectives, go back to the drawing board, and keep trying until you succeed.

Ruminating and obsessing over your failures will get you nowhere. Adaptable people only revisit their failures to figure out how to avoid repeating their mistakes.


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