3 Ways to Improve Your Adaptability
Adaptability is a key attribute we need to focus on in our career given the chaos that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on. I wrote last week in the post, Adaptability and Resilience are the Two Key Superpowers about the importance of adaptability and resilience in our careers.
This week I want to focus on how do we improve our adaptability going forward. This is particularly important for those of us who have deep experience in areas that have changed drastically due to the pandemic.
In the book, Future Proof: Reinventing Work in the Age of Acceleration, Diana Wu-David introduced me to the concept of Adaptability Quotient.
I found the following description to be the most helpful in understanding this concept:
The Adaptability Quotient or “AQ” measures a business’ ability to greet changes in the marketplace, consumer preferences, and technology. In the definitive treatise on the adaptability quotient, entitled Adapt or Die, the AQ is defined as “the ability to adjust course, product, service, and strategy in response to unanticipated changes in the market.”
I want you to focus on the last part which is in response to unanticipated changes in the market.
So how can we improve our adaptability?
Work on our Mindset
I have published multiple podcast episodes on the concept of mindset. I would recommend you listen to the following:
- The Entrepreneurial Mindset for an Accidental Entrepreneur with Diann Wingert [Podcast]
- What is Your Mindset Right Now? Are Ready to Change It? [Podcast]
- How to Adopt a Career Mindset in the 2nd Half of Life with John Tarnoff [Podcast]
The key is to establish a growth mindset. When you have a growth mindset you look at each new obstacle as a challenge that you embrace with glee.
Look for new ways to approach a challenge rather than relying on your past experiences and let go of “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it”.
I grew up in a family where I was taught to be risk-averse. In today’s world playing it safe is the new risky.
In the book, Future Proof: Reinventing Work in the Age of Acceleration, Diana Wu-David discussed having an experimental mindset. That is always having an experiment running that is relatively low risk. That might be starting a consulting business, building an online business like a membership website or an online course, writing a book, starting a podcast, or some other kind of gig work.
Several years ago, I had a client in Austin, Texas who would drive for Uber during the SXSW festival. He made some money but he primarily did it to meet interesting people coming to Austin for the festival. Each evening he drove he came back with a stack of business cards. This was a very low-risk way of experimenting.
When I started Career Pivot over 10 years ago, I had to embrace learning about social media. What I quickly learned was you could not stop learning. As soon as you thought you had figured a strategy that worked, the platforms would change. You then had to start all over.
We are now living in a world where your experience is only valuable if that experience is relevant in the current environment. What that means is staying on top of what is happening in your industry and profession. This may be as simple as setting up a google alert on key search terms related to your industry. I discussed a strategy for doing this in the post 5 Examples to Research Industry Disruption to Safeguard Your Career.
If you are part of the long-term unemployed, then you really need to embrace learning and work on making your skills relevant.
In the Harvard Business Review article A Crisis of Long-Term Unemployment Is Looming in the U.S., Ofer Sharone wrote:
Though the overall unemployment rate is down from its peak last spring, the percent of the unemployed who are long-term unemployed (LTU) keeps increasing and is currently at over 40%, a level of LTU comparable to the Great Recession but otherwise unseen in the U.S. in over 60 years.
Embracing learning is really key to improving your adaptability.
Improving Your Adaptability – Do Not Get Overwhelmed
Making these changes will not happen quickly. Start by picking one area to focus on and establish a habit of working on it every day.
This should be looked at as something you work on for the rest of your life.
As I write this in the middle of August of 2021, COVID-19 is creating havoc in many ways. Just when many of us thought the pandemic was ending, it changed. Learning to improve your adaptability will be beneficial to your career but more importantly to your health and well-being.
What are you going to do to improve your adaptability?