Photo by Bertrand Borie on Unsplash
I have a friend who recently received a promotion and she was ecstatic! For her it was the culmination of years of personal and professional development and she not only felt ready, but was thrilled to know her organization felt she was too. Fast forward a few months and her eagerness had turned into wariness as she ran into some significant challenges she didn’t anticipate. There is a saying that goes “what got you here won’t keep you here”, and it is true of many things; a promotion, committing to a relationship (personal or professional), etc.
The “entrance” conditions to access what we need (like promotions and important relationships) require us to be mindful and adjust, but that is only the tip of the iceberg; the real work begins once you “get there”. Adaptation (as opposed to adjustment or application of skills) requires us to look at ourselves with self-compassion and objectivity, and consider not only the skills we may require, but how we want to be experienced (by ourselves and others) in this new context. It means changes to our behaviours, which in turn touches on our emotional intelligence, values, perceptions and beliefs. In dynamic circumstances, like those found in relationships and workplaces, adaptation takes place on a continuum: healthy stretch into something new, or (at the other end of the spectrum) a stress-filled breaking point. The difference is in how motivated we are to continue taking steps into this new frontier, and whether or not it was our choice to go there in the first place.
In our working lives we will have many opportunities to adapt to different circumstances and it is a choice only we can make (consciously or unconsciously); this choice makes the difference in how we experience the change (stretch or break?). We may also adapt for many reasons; to enable our success in our chosen career path or adapt for our own self-preservation (willingly or not). Acknowledging your reasons for adapting is very important, because it affects the outcome as well as how you feel physically (think energy) and mentally (self-esteem/well-being). Being adaptable requires not only a measure of self-awareness but also resilience; self-awareness to help you to see when you are not at your best (and the impact of that to yourself and others) and resilience to find the energy and willingness to uncover a viable path forward during stress and challenge. Resilience is born of an open mind and growth mindset to help overcome the inevitable obstacles that will arise along the way.
My friend did find resilience and was able to ask for help enabling her to adapt to her new role, which she now enjoys immensely (contributing to her self-esteem and overall well-being). What is key to remember when you are adapting is the all-important word “yet”. As in “I am not there…yet”. That mindset is an indicator of both adaptability and resilience, and it means you will get there in the end.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”. ~ Winston Churchill