2. Self-Regulation

2.4 Adaptability

The fourth attribute of Self-Regulation is adaptability. A person who is adaptable can:

  • Smoothly handle multiple demand, shifting priorities, and rapid change
  • Tailor their responses and tactics to fit fluid circumstances
  • Be flexible in how they see events.

The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.”  Japanese proverb

Why Is Being Adaptable Important?

Because the world is ever-changing, if you are not moving forward – you are actually going backwards. Our landscape is changing ever faster as technology advances. It is predicted that school children of today are preparing for careers that haven’t even been invented yet. An adaptable person will read that with excitement rather than fear.

Research found that 60% of employers note that adaptability has become more important over the last decade; 20% reported that recruits lack adaptability; but only 8% actually provide specific training for this.

Looking forward to your careers is one area where adaptability is essential. But what about now? When you have an important exam, and the venue is changed at the last minute – do you freak out and forget everything you studied? Or are you able to roll with the punches and adapt to the new circumstances.

Being an adaptable individual is not only a quality that makes you more employable, but it is also good for your wellbeing. Great leaders and other successful people don’t reach their level by merely doing the same thing – rather, they actively pursue change to stay innovative and ahead of trends.

An adaptable attitude includes perpetual optimism; adaptable actions exhibit extraordinary resilience – and one cannot exist without the other.

Conditions are always changing, and real peace lies in the ability to adapt to these changes.” Mingyur Rinpoche

How to Increase Your Adaptability

1. Copy and Paste

A slightly misleading heading (but it sounds cool, right?) As with so many critical soft skills, learning from others is one of the best ways to boost your adaptability skills.

Look out for people around you who embody adaptability and model your behaviour on theirs. You can observe them and note how they exemplify this trait of self-regulation; or ask them outright for tips and guidance. Obviously, you will modify this to suit your personality and make it your own.

2. Seek the Positives

When projects or situations don’t go as planned, look for the silver lining. Being able to take a step back and view things objectively rather than despairingly opens up your approach. Ask yourself, “What opportunities does this situation bring my way?” and “What is most interesting or exciting to me about this scenario?

By resetting and reframing your focus, you have an opportunity to learn and grow. This optimism helps to change tack and overcome challenges next time.

You can take away a person’s resources, but you can’t remove resourcefulness.”

3. Make Mistakes

Leave your ego at the door and allow yourself the frustration and humiliation of making mistakes. While we all crave the comfort and ease of the familiar, your adaptability skills increase as you stretch yourself and then learn from your errors. It’s all about how you handle the aftermath of your mistakes.

4. Be Curious

Getting ahead in life cannot be done in isolation. Find inspiring mentors, inventive colleagues, and talented networks to lean on, ask questions, and debate ideas. Asking questions leads to learning more and challenging traditional ways of doing things, a significant element of being adaptable.

What skills, strengths, and resources can you draw on to support yourself as you move forwards with ease? It’s up to you to make the most of the situation you’re in.

5. Find the Humour

Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you cry alone.”

Laughter really is the best medicine, and a great tool for embracing uncertainty.


Sit back, relax, and watch a fun video that briefly explains adaptability:

BONUS: Download a hardcopy summary and analysis of Who Moved My Cheese? HERE


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