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There is a turning point in life, which is fully understanding that “Shit happens.” Yes, it does in life and business, and you must adapt. Your adaptability skills are one of the extremely vital skills for a person to develop and maintain throughout their career. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career; as an employee, manager, executive, or entrepreneur, you need to adapt when things don’t go as planned or change in the market. Keeping up with current trends and development is not enough, and you must show your adaptability skills to secure your authority in your chosen career.

What is adaptability? The definition that yale provides is adaptability is “a person’s ability to adjust to changes in their environment. You might think it’s hard, but we do it daily without thinking about it. To survive, Chameleons must adapt to their surroundings, similar to what we must do because life changes daily. Stuff comes up that we didn’t think would happen. I deal with it every day, even at home.

For example, when my mother has to take her medication, sometimes she’s like no, I don’t want to take it. She takes the little pills but doesn’t like taking the big ones, the metformin pills. I have to adjust my mindset. I will give her the little pills in the morning and the rest during lunch. I recently started crushing up her big pills and giving them to her with her Chobani zero-sugar yogurt. My attention usually is to wake up and give my mother her medication after she eats her breakfast like usual, but there are days when things do not go as planned. I have to be flexible and think of ways to ensure she takes her medication.

Adaptability caters to your resourcefulness, communication skills, ability to keep up-to-date to learn new concepts, ideas, and programs, curiosity, organizational skills, and ability to work with a team.

Being resourceful is being creative. Sometimes, you must think on your feet and out of the box to finish the job. We think we have a straight line to achieving success, but it’s not. We go through ups and downs and struggles because that is how we learn. If you have ever watched MacGyver’s new or old series, you see how resourceful he was when he was in a jam. In one of the episodes, he states, “The best way to beat a problem is to make it work for you.”

Adaptability is also how we communicate with each other. Some people have the gift of gab, where they can talk you out of your pants if you let them because they know how to appeal to people’s emotions. They know what to say and how to say it! They are good listeners, and what people say out of their mouths is vital to themselves and other people. You have to know what to say and what not to say. Take comedians, for example. Jokes that were good in the good o’ days when I was young seem offensive today because times have changed. They didn’t have social media, where people who didn’t like what you said couldn’t jeopardize your career.

Adaptability is keeping up-to-date to learn new concepts, ideas, and programs. I know we can’t keep up-to-date with everything. You stay afloat in your area of expertise or interest. Most of the time, you must do this independently and strategically, asking yourself how this will impact your life. Are you doing this to advance your career or a hobby? Sometimes you may learn something new when you take the risk and collaborate with another professional who can introduce you to their world.

To keep us moving forward, we have to be curious. Asking questions allows us to be innovative and problem-solve, allowing our mindset to grow. Think about math today. They are so many ways to solve a problem that they didn’t teach us back in the day. Each way is important because the child has to find the best way to solve the problem and come up with the answer. Being curious allows us to find new ways to get the job done that might benefit other people. Being open-minded and understanding is important because sometimes, what we know is not even the whole story. Like history, it’s his story! What is the rest of the story that we don’t know? Sometimes you have to use your imagination and seek answers.

Adaptability improves your organizational skills. Organizational skills mean, according to, “You have the ability to use your time and resources efficiently and effectively.” We waste a lot of time when things are not organized. When you are organized, you know whom to go to and where to look if a problem arises. But what happens if the person you need to go to is unavailable? They’re out on vacation, and their backup person cannot solve your problem. You could either go to their boss or your boss to see if you can get them to help you. Or, ask for an extension, so you have enough time to research the problem and find the answer yourself.

Adaptability is working as a team even when you don’t want to. We all know that sometimes people don’t get along. People push our buttons, but we must learn to work under pressure and remain calm when working with difficult people. If you learn each other strengths and weaknesses, you can work the problem more efficiently. You understand that the work is more important than the issue you might be having, and sometimes you have to find the silver lining and move on!

Mistakes will happen. How are you going to strategize to fix the problem? Can you take constructive criticism because sometimes mistakes happen because we don’t want to listen or learn from others? Like Max McKeown states, “Doing nothing requires effort. Over time, that effort is greater than the effort necessary to improve or move somewhere better. The trick is to redirect energy.”  You have to redirect that effort you develop to do nothing into doing something. Start small and keep working.

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