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We had an incredibly powerful conversation with Organizational Psychologist, Dr. Laura Gallaher on what ‘Adaptability’ truly means.  After hearing her expertise, we have 6 important takeaways that we understand to be key elements to both an individual’s and an organization’s ability to evolve and adapt in times of change.

6 Takeaways on how to Increase Adaptability

1. The Core Elements of Self.

It all starts with the individual.  The core elements of the self are Self-acceptance, Self-awareness, and Self-accountability.  An individual’s goal is to have fluidity in how we think about ourselves, so we’re better equipped to adapt to situations.

Self-acceptance deals with the idea that “I’m okay with me, I’m okay with myself, my flaws and imperfections make up who I am just as much as my strengths.”  When you have self-acceptance, you can create better Self-awareness.  The idea behind better self-awareness is that if you can better understand yourself, you can better understand the ways that you’re contributing to your own situations, including situations that you don’t love. That self-awareness allows you to then have Self-accountability.  How are you contributing to situations, and in particular, how might you be contributing to the problem?

2. The Core Elements of Culture in an Organization.

Dr. Gallaher believes that culture in an organization depends on the individual.  When an individual understands the Core Elements of Self, they can better contribute to the organization as a whole.  There are a few “links” that each individual brings to the table:

Maturity has everything to do with those Core Elements of Self.  When an individual has Self-acceptance, Self-awareness, and Self-accountability, they have a level of maturity that makes it easier to regard others with respect and humility.

Diversity is the act of inclusion of different skills, different ideas, and different behaviors.  On an individual level, diversity is one’s own ability to include and honor another person’s perspective, even though they look different, think differently, and behave differently.  When an individual has maturity, they are not threatened by what another person has to say. That is how you achieve creativity and innovation.

Community is the act of trust, compassion, and openness.  When a person has respect for others, they are able to listen, connect, and build trust.  When a person has Self-acceptance, they are more likely to be open with others about their thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. That way, when there is a challenge, neither party comes to the table in an accusatory way, rather from a place of being on the same side and working towards a solution

Unity is founded on common behaviors, common purpose, and control. Control often has negative connotations, but for an organization with big goals, you want the company as a whole to have control over that direction.  In order to achieve those goals, each individual needs to feel unified by their identity within the organization and feel happy to be a part of the bigger mission.

3. Leadership.

Good leaders are able to create a strong culture and drive lasting change.   As an organization, you want to constantly evolve.  The ability to evolve depends on the strength of leadership.

So far, the year 2020 has created an incredibly powerful idea about this – with all that is happening in the world, every individual within an organization has been affected in one way or another.  As a leader, it is your responsibility to consider the impacts of events on human beings in your organization, as well as to the business as a whole.

Adapt or die.  As a business, if you want to stay alive, you’ve got to evolve and to evolve, you have to not only survive but thrive.  To thrive, you must evolve at a rate that’s faster than the industry and the world is changing.  Strong leaders help an organization align its strategy to better serve its people and to propel it in the right direction.

4. Emotions.

The world is changing around us and naturally, that creates emotions.  Emotions follow a bell curve.  When a person experiences one or several emotions, there is a natural upswell, the emotions peak, and then come down the other side.  The problem is, for most of us, our environments have taught us to stop those emotions right on the upswell before they reach the peak, and that can be dangerous.

We’ve all been told to “stop crying,” or “don’t cry” at some point in our lives. In a work context, it’s perceived as risky to show emotions, and some of us even apologize for feeling them.  When we bottle in emotions, eventually they explode.  There’s usually an outburst, and we snap at people.  The point is that those emotions are misdirected.  Part of self-awareness and self-acceptance is knowing that you have emotions and being okay with letting those emotions run their course.

5. The Power of Choice.

The Power of Choice has to do with recognizing the choices you have and being empowered by them.  Don’t ignore negative feelings.  Instead, it’s empowering to know that emotions co-exist.  Where there is a negative emotion, there’s often an underlying good one as well.  We can feel something positive and negative at the same time; one thing can be true for us, and another can also be true simultaneously.

This is particularly valuable for the Power of Choice because there is a subtlety and sophistication in allowing oneself to feel exactly what we’re feeling, then use the conscious brain to decide what to focus on.  Be very intentional.  We all get to choose our own stories and thoughts and emotions that are driving those stories.

6. Change.

Change is one of the most powerful examples of how emotions can co-exist.  With every change we experience, we associate both positive and negative consequences or impacts of that change.  What Laura demonstrated in her seminar, is that our “idea” of change, actually boils down to resisting any perceived negative consequences, not the change itself.  One example she gave, is that if any of us were offered $10 million dollars, most of us would accept that money, now we may quietly wonder what the catch is, but most of us would rationalize that we only have something to gain not lose from that change.

Thus, it’s not the change itself that we resist, it’s the fear of what we might lose.  Loss is incredibly painful for us.  To apply this, when something is changing in our lives and we feel like we’re struggling to adapt, Dr. Gallaher’s advice is to try to identify what it feels like we’re losing within that change.  Once we do that, we can figure out what we want to do in order to hold onto the things that matter to us the most.

There you have it.  A person’s ability to adapt has everything to do with what’s inside of themselves. An organization depends on those very individuals and the element of leadership to evolve and thrive.

Visit our resources page to catch the full on-demand webinar with Dr. Gallaher!