I am a planner, and I like things to run on time. Having grown up in a house with a planner, my daughter, Elena, gets frustrated with friends’ families who don’t run the same way. I get it, because last minute changes annoy me too – but I also want my kiddo to see the good things that come from spending time with people who are so present. These are the families with whom she frequently has spontaneous picnics, playdates, sleepovers, and often the most fun.
This kind of undivided presence and flexibility is the heart of Adaptability, a Relationship Building Strength. People with Adaptability often are easy-going and laid back. They see you where you are, and they can respond to your needs in the moment. These are the people who will change their plans to be there for you when you need a friend.
Two of my friends, McKenzie and Gayanne, are amazing facilitators and spiritual lay leaders who have Adaptability in their Top 5 Strengths. McKenzie leads sessions on many topics, including justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion, where people have some pretty challenging conversations. Gayanne is a vocal coach and leads fabulously creative singing workshops, in which people can choose to be very vulnerable. Additionally, both McKenzie and Gayanne lead spiritual experiences where people leave feeling more connected to themselves and to each other.
Humans are super messy – we’re an ever-changing mix of joy, anxiety, sadness, fear, and any other emotion you can name. In the deeply human work that McKenzie and Gayanne do in the world, they not only plan for that messiness, but they encourage it. People with Adaptability aren’t scared or thrown off by emotions – they know it’s what’s needed to keep things real.
Adaptability is so much more than being “go with the flow.” Being adaptable requires a lot of emotional and cognitive flexibility – this Strength has the natural ability to read a room and make necessary changes on the fly. There’s a lot of creativity and leadership capacity built into this Strength in its willingness to change course as needed. We need people with Adaptability for their ability to be extraordinarily present with us.
People with Adaptability may find themselves drained by roles with too much structure or involve too much routine. It may frustrate them to work with rigid thinkers, unless they enjoy the challenge of helping them loosen up! While Adaptability thrives with the autonomy to change course, too much looseness isn’t helpful either. In situations without a clear end goal or without clear parameters about acceptable adaptations, people with Adaptability may find themselves stuck in a creative spin cycle.
Additionally, people with Adaptability need to be careful not to do so much adapting for others that they forget to take care of their own needs. Over time, this Strength can get so good at bending and flexing that they may not recognize when they’re close to breaking.
Think of people with Adaptability like a strong ship, built to withstand the storm and able to navigate unexpected changes in the current. You can look to Adaptability to recognize the need for a new course, stabilize the crew, and put the new plan into action – all without freaking out or complaining. In fact, they actually get excited by this process, which is pretty amazing to me!
Need someone to help you stay steady as you navigate uncharted waters? Call someone with Adaptability to be your co-captain.
Interested in learning more about how to put Strengths to work for yourself or your team?