We often hear the word ‘thriving’ but have you ever stopped to consider what it really means, or whether it applies to you? The dictionary definition of ‘thrive’ is ‘to prosper, be fortunate or successful’ and also ‘to grow or develop vigorously; flourish’.
In coaching terms, thriving is all about working on your self-development, personal growth and resilience. A huge part of becoming more resilient is learning to become more adaptable. Truly resilient people are able to adapt themselves in response to the VUCA World (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) around them. They are able to move swiftly in response to challenges, assessing the possibilities, spotting the opportunities, and changing the plan to achieve the best possible outcome.
It’s not always easy to be adaptable though. As humans we like to retain the status quo, stick to what we know, as this instinctively feels safe. We are all very comfy in our own comfort zones. We have evolved this way for a reason, and the approach has served us well for thousands of years as a survival mechanism, but it doesn’t serve us particularly well in the modern workplace, or in a leadership role. It prevents us from being able to grow – in other words we can’t thrive.
In order to thrive we need to become as adaptable as we can.
Human evolution has led us to become the opposite to remain safe, so this takes conscious effort and work to develop. Truly resilient people know they should spend around a third of their time working on their adaptability. This may sound excessive, but you can work on adaptability while working on other things; it’s all about the level you work at. Spending as much time as you can in ‘stretch’ mode, which is when you are trying new things, innovating, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, helps you become more adaptable. By working in this way, you will learn to become enthused by new ideas, and inspired by watching others and applying this to your own work.
Over time you will start to enjoy trying new things and be open to new ideas, becoming more creative and innovative. You will start solving problems and spotting opportunities, even in chaotic circumstances. Thriving means asking yourself “what’s the opportunity?” even in a disaster. People who are resilient and thriving can become inspirational leaders of hugely successful teams and can carry people through the toughest of times.
Thriving leaders have their head, heart, and gut in alignment, because they spend time understanding themselves and their values, and align their work to this. The time they spend understanding themselves is not selfish – quite the opposite. It enables them to become a better role model and lead the team successfully, so ultimately everyone benefits.
Thriving people develop their self-awareness and ability to adapt to situations until the ability to ask themselves “what strengths have I got that will help?” and “what collective ability can we draw on from my support network?” becomes second nature to them. They know they won’t always have the answers, or the skill set, but they will know who to call!
Thriving people are also optimistic about the future. This doesn’t mean they blindly expect everything to go well no matter what. They know there will be challenges to face, and sometimes things won’t go to plan, but they are confident in their ability to adapt and face whatever life throws at them.
How would you like to become more Adaptable?
Podcast Episode 1 Series 1 (all episodes available on website)
Website link – www.theresiliencecoach.co.uk
This article was published in the November/December 2023 issue