Is there a big change looming in your life? A loved one on her deathbed? A child about to be born? A new educational pursuit? A change in your career? A loss of a spouse? A new home overseas?
Whatever it is, you can manage it brilliantly if you’re adaptable. And if you’re not adaptable, you can always learn its art.
The Positive Trait Thesaurus outlines characteristics of adaptable people, some of which I’ve highlighted in bold font below. I’ve added commentary beside each one on what it takes to assume the characteristic.
With that said, here are seven traits of highly adaptable people:
Trait 1: Being willing to improvise. At the core of improvisation is saying “yes” to everything, never second-guessing yourself in the moment, but being highly attuned to what’s said and going on around you. “Do you want to go parachute jumping?” “Yes, and I’ll take some lessons before we go.” “Do you want to start a talk show?” “Yes, and you can be my co-host.” “Do you want to move to the Yukon and join the military?” “Yes, and I’ll get a free education as a dentist while I’m in training.”
Trait 2: Recovering from disappointments or setbacks quickly. Never feel pity for yourself. Pity never poses a positive solution. Try to step aside from the setback, not personalize it. Instead see the disappointment as an opportunity to rebuild or repair with a positive attitude. Create a playbook outlining “what happened,” “what went right,” “what went wrong,” “what could be improved,” and “what will be the strategy going forward.” Research all methods that might have led to a higher ground. Learn from mistakes and open your heart, but never wallow in self-pity.
Trait 3: Being a good listener. I saw a famous hostage negotiator on Masterclass advise on strategies for listening. The strategies included repeating, with curiosity, the last few words someone just said. For instance, if someone says, “I want to more adaptable,” then you reply, “More adaptable?” Alternatively, you could ask a “what” or “how” question such as, “What steps would you like to take to become more adaptive?” Another possibility is that you could summarize by saying, “Sounds like you know what you want,” or “It seems like you’ve got a big goal ahead of you.” In these examples, you would be getting the speakers to do all the talking without you revealing much of yourself. That’s because these are listening strategies for negotiating hostages. But I personally find these strategies make the speakers feel heard and appreciated, so I use them often.
Trait 4: Maintaining firm control of one’s emotions. Replace your negative emotions with positive ones as soon as possible. Don’t allow your mind to walk into a dark room of moans and groans. Get out of there quickly, as the dark room will quickly turn into a nightmare of emotions. Find the positive instead—the room filled with love and virtue—and park your thoughts within that wonderland.
Trait 5: Learning from one’s past mistakes. Admit to yourself your mistake as soon as you can. Analyze how you could’ve tackled the situation with more love and positivity. Try out the new strategy the next time the situation arises.
Trait 6: Following orders efficiently. Listen carefully to orders and take notes. Repeat them to the person issuing the commands to ensure you’ve got them right. Ask questions, too. Make a checklist of tasks you need to perform.
Trait 7: Taking advantage of opportunities. Say yes to opportunities, even if they scare you or force you to question your abilities. The best opportunities come with risk, so take risks. And imagine a big dream you might like to achieve. That way, your brain will be on high alert for anything that could help advance your dream. (This radar-like awareness occurs in the part of the brain called the Reticular Activation System.). And remember, you can take all paths to that opportunity at once or just one path or even multiple meandering paths. There is no limit.
Stay positive by embracing your unlimited potential. See opportunities as infinitely available. Chase the ones that get your heart pumping.
Those were seven ways to become more adaptable. If you adopt just one of the seven traits today, you will come closer to taking change so well that you skyrocket the heavens.