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Adaptability is necessary for the various challenges that life throws on our paths especially in the 2020’s. It gives us survival and progress when other people who do not have the skill, struggle.

Descriptions of adaptability

According to Andresen and Gronau adaptability in the field of organizational management can in general be seen as an ability to change something or oneself to fit to occurring changes.

Adaptability means one is able to quickly respond to changing trends, innovation, destabilization, industry shifts, and so forth. This ability to adjust or shift makes an employee nimble and that is important because most industries today are in some state of flux. Anne Converse Willkomm

The quality of being able to adjust to new conditions. The capacity to be modified for a new use or purpose. Lexico

Adaptability as a skill refers to the ability of a person to change his actions, course or approach to doing things in order to suit a new situation. We constantly change our lifestyles because our world is changing always. Wikipedia

In their book, “The Platinum Rule,” Tony Alessandra and Michael O’Connor describe adaptability as being made up of two distinct components: flexibility and versatility. Flexibility is your attitude; how willing are you to change? Versatility comes down to ability; are you actually capable of change?

14 Characteristics of “adaptable” people

Jeff Boss identifies the characteristics of what they do and why they contribute to the baseline of any institution where they are:

1. See opportunity where others see failure.

2. Are resourceful.

3. Think ahead.

4. Do not whine.

5. Talk to themselves.

6. Do not blame.

7. Do not claim fame.

8. Are curious.

9. They adapt.

10. Stay current.

11. See systems.

12. Open their minds.

13. They know what they stand for.

14. They experiment.

Why is adaptability in the workplace important?

A. Employers value employees that are successfully able to manage changes in the workplace.

B. The more adaptable employees are, the more productive they will be overall.

C. Frees up the time employees might have normally spent being stressed out when a new challenge presented itself.

D. It showcases employees’ ability to be resourceful, displays leadership skills, determination, analytical skills and more.


Guidance to adaptability: Steps

Valerie David wrote: “Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who lived around 500 BC, developed an entire philosophy around the fact that life is nothing but constant change and suggested the steps below:

1. Redefine your motivation. Change is not easy for most people. The key first step to excelling at adaptability is finding a motivator that makes it easier for you to adapt.

2. Observe and learn. Observing others can also help when dealing with clients and competitors. Millions of how-to videos on YouTube attest to the fact that it’s easier to learn when you can watch someone who’s already mastered it.

3. Ask questions. In addition to observation, we learn by asking questions. The more knowledge you have, the better you’ll be able to transition to the new system.

4. Prepare alternative solutions. Use your knowledge and creativity to come up with alternate solutions.

5. Make easy transitions. Show initiative in learning the new role, and use your organisational and time management skills to conquer additional responsibilities.


6. Stay calm and confident. Stay calm and poised and be ready to make quick and confident decisions.

7. Acquire new skills. Take every opportunity to acquire new skills at your job. Any knowledge you pick up can help you adapt to upcoming changes and helps to stay ahead of the competition.

8. Set small goals. Break goals up into smaller assignments. It’s much easier to embrace the challenge when you have an orderly to-do list that gives you attainable goals to work on.

9. Find the upside. Finding the upside in a challenge is the best way to move forward. Create distance, and view the challenge holistically and objectively.

10. Be willing to make mistakes. Taking on a new challenge means making mistakes and exposing yourself to failure and criticism. Being willing to learn new things, take on new roles or suggest new ideas are the only ways to truly advance in your career.

Hints for adaptability

Apricots. Observe and monitor changes in your environment
Blackberries. Be willing to learn
Carambola. Avoid procrastination
Durian. Acknowledge the fact that changes are bound to occur

Crucial habits to enhance adaptability

Whether you are barely beginning to embrace adaptability or looking to sharpen your skill:
i. Get out of your comfort zone now
ii. Be a better listener
iii. Ask questions
iv. Be willing to make mistakes
v. Find the positive
vi. Learn from your co-workers
vii. Find balance in your life
viii. Practice emotional intelligence


Adaptability can be developed and mastered. With consistent skill development adaptability can be a power element in any arsenal.


“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.” Max McKeown

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

“Adaptability to change is itself a hallmark of successful education.” Peter Hilton

“Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.” Mahatma Gandhi

“And the most successful people are those who accept, and adapt to constant change. This adaptability requires a degree of flexibility and humility most people can’t manage.” Paul Lutus

“Action and adaptability create opportunity.” Garrison Wynn

“All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” Max McKeown

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

“An adaptive mind has better learning capability.” Pearl Zhu