The ongoing pandemic has highlighted many things, including how adaptable humans actually are. Just think of it: a few months ago, many of us went to work at an office, saw our children off to school in the morning, lived as much as we wanted to outdoors, and actually interacted face-to-face with people beyond our immediate family. How would you have reacted if sometime last year you were asked to stay at home for 2 months? I imagine that, like me, you would have said it was impossible. And yet like me, you probably adapted. The immense power of adaptability is that it can happen easily, when left unhindered…
We are very adaptable. Possibly more than we expect. All we need to do is to limit our innate resistance to change.
Adaptability can loosely be defined as being able to adjust to new conditions. Current circumstances have shown how important a quality this is. But in fact, adaptability turns out to be key under ‘more normal’ circumstances too. Think of all those times in which something hasn’t worked out as you intended it to. Or all those times in which circumstances turned against you. Did you make the most out of the change? Or did you fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo?
More often than not change is an unexpected (read ’unwelcome’) visitor. And yet you can learn to invite it over to your home by being adaptable – in other words seeing the opportunity in change. “How exactly do you harness the power of adaptability?” I hear you ask. Well, try to be aware of your attitude towards change and consciously decide how to react. It is human nature to focus on what change will take away, on the loss you will suffer. Well, let that happen for a bit to build acceptance. And from there start thinking of the benefits of the ‘new’.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
So, rather than insisting on repeating ways that have worked in the past, try pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and trying something new. Just change the plan… This experimentation will lead you to some non-starters, but for sure you will gradually innovate more. And if you see failure as an opportunity to try again with a bit more wisdom, you will always be in a winning position. Over time you will develop a mindset of “why it might work” instead of “why it won’t work”. You will become more comfortable with uncertainty and more willing to tolerate ongoing risk.
I have been through a lot of changes in my life. Some felt better than others, some were downright painful! I suppose I realized along the way that resistance was not only futile but actually made things worse. So now I try not to dwell too much on the loss. Rather I focus on the potential gain – and it seems that I manage to seize more opportunities out of challenges now. I guess I am on the train as it leaves the station!