We talk a lot about the power of adapting. If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur, leader or contributor, you have to adapt well throughout your life and work. But what does it mean to adapt? What does it look like when someone adapts to new situations and circumstances? There is no doubt that we could fill the pages of an entire book exploring those questions. But consider two qualities that shine a light on what it means to adapt. Gracious Flexibility.
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We tend to associate flexing (bending) with adaptability. To succeed, we must bend with “out of our control” realities that frequently occur in our environment. If we are overly rigid to environmental shifts, we may be viewed as unnecessary or an impediment to change. So we emphasize, for good reason, the skill of flexibility. The ability to accept and move with change rather than unnecessarily resist it is certainly an important element of adaptability. We do this, to some degree, by remaining a learner, staying curious, and not falling in love with the current iteration of, well…just about everything.
This quality may not come up as readily when we think about adapting to change. It is, however, a most important skill to add to the mix. Graciousness is about the demeanor and “vibe” I present during times of change. When we are required to adapt, we may be tempted to express our unhappiness through a variety of negative emotional expressions. This diminishes both our ability to adapt to the change and decreases our value to those around us. What is valuable to others (leaders and colleagues), during times of change, is the gracious attitudes we choose to bring during the change. Whining and bitching about the change creates another layer of angst that people around us have to withstand. And that can make us less appealing next time leaders, colleagues or friends are looking to include others in important work or events.
The real power in these two elements is in the combination. When you can flex in a gracious manner, you are adding value in powerful way–for yourself and those around you. If we lose either element from the mix, our adaptability (and likely our value) diminishes.
If you’re interested in pursuing the idea of flexibility during change, I explore it in more depth in my book, Tribal Alchemy: Turning What You Have Into What You Need (2016).