Coach's Corner

Finding the Opportunity in Challenge

Adaptability – the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions.

Have you ever been frustrated at change? Have you been annoyed at someone for not responding to a question in the timeframe and way you wanted and expected? Do you want to find a way to “flow” with the unexpected and use it in ways that better your life? It all starts with adaptability. The more you can embrace the idea of problem-solving and mindfulness, the less frustration will be felt from perceived obstacles. So what makes us tick into becoming more adaptable? It starts with understanding the mindset.

Defining a challenge is the first step in understanding how to become more adaptable. While your mind probably falls to saying that a challenge is simply an obstacle or problem, there’s more to it. A challenge is intentionally defined as an obstacle that must be overcome to achieve a goal. It is not a problem. In fact, a problem is something that comes unexpectedly, and a challenge is something your actions come across.

You can only label something a challenge when it comes with an endpoint and clear vision. The distinction needs the question, “why is this a challenge” and the response must be, “because X is what we’re looking to achieve.” Adaptability stems from the thought process that subsequently answers, “how can I positively leverage this challenge?”

Once you’ve removed the limiting belief that all challenges are problems, you’re ready to start shifting your thought process. Adaptability teaches that critical thinking will help you continue to overcome the limiting beliefs that make you rigid in thought. Start by asking yourself if the conclusions being drawn are based solely on facts. In other words, is there an argument to be made against your thought process? If you practice the art of thinking from different perspectives, you will train your brain to find alternative solutions and be able to take more appropriate actions. Critical thinking opens possibilities; the more possibilities you discover, the more opportunities you create.

Allowing Space for Personal Growth

Practicing compassion toward your mind is another critical element in developing adaptability. According to multiple studies by the National Science Foundation, approximately 80% of a person’s daily thoughts are negative. What’s worse, about 90% of these thoughts are repetitive. This tells us that we are naturally hard on ourselves and hyper-fixated on reminding ourselves about past situations. So how do we fight those negatively impacting, cyclical thoughts? We focus on reducing the negative statements we make by asking ourselves how we can be more positive instead. Active compassion towards your mindset will give you a sense of self-acceptance that increases confidence through solution. The more you actively force yourself to consider the positive about your situation and yourself, the more your brain resets to help reduce that percentage of daily negative thoughts. Be less hard on yourself and more focused on finding positives in situations.

Reframing Your Perspective

The natural progression of practicing compassion leads to an ability to reframe challenges as positive, not negative. If every challenge is looked at as having the potential to solve, resolve, or improve, it breaks the idea of inflexibility. This, in turn, creates a level of adaptability that can be easily replicated. Instead of looking at hurdles or the proverbial “molehills” as insurmountable mountains, they become training grounds for betterment. The result this type of thinking has on your brain is just as much chemical as it is life-altering. Conversations become more open, ideas happen more frequently, and opportunities pop up without trying to find them. If you’re looking for ways to improve your reframing abilities, ask yourself, “what benefit can tackling this challenge bring and how can this challenge be an opportunity?” All challenges can offer more than just the ability to move forward. Challenges bring growth, and growth creates adaptability.

Becoming adaptable makes you embrace challenges better, improves your leadership, helps you develop more thoughtful strategies, strengthens your professional and personal relationships, decreases stress, and helps you lead a more positive life. Effectively focusing on becoming more adaptable takes a sincere desire to break current thought patterns while improving your inner voice to recognize the value in yourself and your situations. It takes time to develop more robust adaptability, but once you start, the nature of its actions will cause a snowball effect for continued growth.

Disempower the idea that challenges are barriers to your overall achievement and focus on developing your adaptability in every facet of your life: from personal to professional.

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