“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to end, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. – Vivian Greene.
Developing the resilience to adapt to a change in circumstances and make the best of them is a vital human resource. A recent study from the University of Toronto and Cornell has shown that humans began to develop resilience and adaptability as early as The Bronze Age. Historians have found that early human settlements in Turkey learned, over a period of years, to adapt to environmental changes, producing a variety of crops on new land which meant they could not only survive but, vitally, thrive as a species.
Charles Darwin once said about adaptability, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Darwin is of course talking about the origin of the species and the theory of evolution here, but his words still resonate in the modern business world. Psychologist and online trainer Barry Winbolt found that those who are resilient are better able to deal with changing demands and circumstances at work, and we’re currently experiencing humans everywhere developing resilience to cope with changes in business circumstances.
This past year has proven that the business world has an amazing capacity for adaptation and innovation, as businesses have spent the majority of the year finding ways to become more resilient and adaptable. To help you on your own path to resilience, and to help your business to ride with the changing tides well into the future, consider some of the suggestions below.
Every problem presents an opportunity
As Winbolt states, difficult issues are likely to arise within any business. Rather than being frightened of problems though, Winbolt suggests that organisations and their employees should view any changes or mini-crises as an opportunity to adapt and be part of a learning process. Challenges can often help us to develop new skills, whilst also nurturing old ones. One example of tenacious adaptability is UK brewery Brew Dog. It took the challenge of lockdown in its stride by switching from producing alcohol to producing hand sanitiser to help their business remain viable by creating a temporary additional income stream that made use of their existing products and showcased their brand. Such adaptability and resilience proved very positive for their business, achieving significant international PR and attracting droves of positive feedback on social media.
Measure your adaptability
It’s possible to measure the abilities, characteristics, and environmental factors that lead to successful behaviours and actions of people and businesses to respond to uncertainty and change.
Adaptability quotient is a measure of workplace adaptability which assesses how likely you will be able to recover from setbacks, find alternative solutions to problems and embrace change. As Peter Drucker famously said, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it, so by measuring adaptability, you can begin your change journey by focusing your efforts in the areas where you can make the greatest improvements.
The mindful way to find solutions
Mindfulness can have several neurological benefits, including improved emotional intelligence and empathy. This can enhance your ability to manage conflict and communicate more effectively and allow you to take a breather from stressful situations.
Taking time out to pause, reflect and give your mind some quiet time gives you the opportunity to see problems differently and find ways to pursue a positive outcome. Expert in mindfulness, Mirabai Bush, says that mindfulness doesn’t stop all these things from arising, it teaches us how to respond instead of react. Conflicts and problems may still arise but adapting your mindset to embrace mindfulness can help you to deal with issues and conflicts more skilfully and empathetically.
Team training can a great source of unity and improving mindfulness as colleagues feel their feelings are being acknowledged. Ultimately, being mindful decreases stress and anxiety and increases productivity and focus because everyone is working more cohesively towards a shared goal.
History has shown us that humans have consistently needed to be resilient and able to adapt to their surroundings in order to survive and thrive. Business is no exception to this rule. It has had to learn, sometimes with no warning, to have the resilience to adapt or fail – ‘learning to dance in the rain’ has perhaps never been more important than in 2020.
Find out more about measuring and improving your adaptability
Recognising change is inevitable, and the rate of change is increasing continually, which is why I have just completed my accreditation in AQai – an approach to measuring and improving adaptability in individuals, teams and organisations. If you’d like to find out more about measuring and improving your own adaptability, please get in touch.
I’m setting aside part of my day to offer free mini Executive Coaching and Mentoring to people who would value some help in adopting new ways of working. Get in touch if you’d like to talk.