"Charles Darwin said that it's not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It's the one that is most adaptable to change".
That's an evolutionary fact. It's a fact of life and it's a fact of business too. Adaptability is a skill, it's not a trait. There are certain personality traits that help people adapt. Traits like courage, curiosity and openness. But just because someone is courageous, curious and open doesn't mean that change comes easy for them. Adaptability requires a certain belief system called the 'adaptable mindset'.
The opposite of an adaptable mindset is a fixed mindset.
- It's a different belief system that - thinks that - the work environment should be orderly and predictable;
- That changes need to be fully understood;
- That changes should be agreeable to them; and
- That change is an inconvenience that can be minimized, and
- They believe that their growth potential is limited.
The people that think this way, and there are a lot of them, are going to struggle to adapt because everything they believe is wrong. So you've got to help them shift their thinking.
The adaptable mindset thinks that..
- The workplace is unpredictable;
- That hindsight will enable full understanding;
- That they can accept without agreeing;
- That change takes effort; and
- That their growth potential (and their ability to adapt) is based on their effort, not their talent.
Some things you can do to help people with a fixed mindset:
- Listen to them because that's how you diagnose a fixed mindset.
- Promote the adaptable mindset is one of your core values. If it's important to you they'll know what's expected.
- Then pair them with an adaptable mindset, so they can follow a good example.
- Then I want you to do this: Ask them about the positive ways they've changed. What triggered that change? Did they have all the answers upfront? How much effort did it take? And how did they feel after? This is a good way to remind people that they are adaptable and it's a good way to trigger the adaptable mindset in them. They've done it before and they can do it again.
- Then give lots of encouragement, recognize their effort and celebrate their progress.
You want to create a positive feedback loop that fuels their adaptable mindset. Mindsets are conditioned in us. They're coping mechanisms. Adaptable mindsets enable healthy coping. And fixed mindsets, well, it's unhealthy coping. So when you spot a fixed mindset, you've got to help them. You've got to help them cope in a healthier, more productive fashion.
Everyone has the ability to adapt and grow. Sometimes you just need to remind some of them how, and that's what you're doing."
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