Entrepreneurship is a way of life. A living practice to move from one challenge to the next. For me, it sometimes feels like starting a game of tennis and not having any idea who your opponent is, but you know they are good. You get worked. You get embarrassed. You get your ass kicked a few times. But, with some cautious optimism, humility, and a ton of practice, you show up again. Why? Because mastering the next level is all you can dream about. So, you adapt.
But you don’t need to be an entrepreneur to practice adapting. Adaptability is something that we all need to have to navigate life. No matter what we do, we will always face changes and challenges. Do you quit? Do you make excuses? Do you blame the wind? Or, the economy? Or do you move through the challenge with as much grace and wisdom as you can find today?
In this post, I’d like to share with you some of my personal experiences with adaptability and how it has helped me in my professional life.
What is Adaptability?
Adaptability is the ability to adjust to new situations and changes. It involves being flexible, open-minded, and willing to learn new things. Adaptability has been my ride-or-die through navigating tough situations.
It matters to me why?
Adaptability matters because it helps us to:
- Embrace change: Change can be scary, but it accepting that change may not be terrible, is a good first step. You don’t have to accept all of it at once. My first step is thinking, “maybe this won’t be terrible.” Try it.
- Be resilient: I’ve been playing entrepreneur and human long enough to know that ups and downs happen over and over again. And no matter how many minutes I listen to headspace daily, the ups and downs will always come. But remember that not every down as bad as you think, and not every up is not as great as you’d hope. This simple reminder makes for a more steady practice in moving through life.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable: Start learning from scratch. Who cares? No one is watching you begin the 101 module. No one cares. Learn to keep learning new skills so you can stay relevant and at minimum, informed.
I’ve been crushed over and over again. Win-defeat. Win-defeat. After years of having a big Fortune 500 client that was an anchor for our small business, they decided to cut all their small agencies to hire a global conglomerate. Boo. It was devastating financially. But also, it was personal for me. I know you shouldn’t take things personally, but how can you not sometimes? I put all of my personal attention into this client. Like any past breakup, I drank too many martinis that night, and ugly cried. But when I woke up, adaptability and I had a long brunch. We put on our sneakers, ran off the vodka, and started again with a simple question: Who could benefit from the knowledge I learned from that last client? Let’s do that. Step one—make a list.
What Can We Do Right Now?
- Think about where you feel stuck today. Now ask yourself, what can I do to move one step forward? Think you are too good for only one step? Then find some reading on humility.
- Make a list. What are 3 ways to get unstuck? Take a class. Write an email. Reach out to 3 peers or mentors to help you. Here’s some recommendations for free classes—Google Digital Garage, Alison and EdX
- Call your friend or cousin. Start with this…”I’m feeling stuck. Can I process something with you?”