Adaptology: The Psychology of ‘The Shift’

Is adaptability just a coveted trait or is there any science waiting to be explored? A white paper by Liam Burnell in 2019 spoke of adaptability as a science, which is indeed something I have always wondered about. Beyond just being a Leadership trait, the whole world talks of, aspires to be and envies, is there more to Adaptability? Can there be a scientific approach to understanding it? Can I use empathy to resonate with and mimic the mindsets of highly adaptable beings that I come across?

Let me give you an example. Ulrich, Kayo, and Laser are my three beloved pets that are not only my world but an integral part of my growth journey (keeping my parental feelings aside). During playtime, Ulrich only wants to play with a specific toy he likes. If Kayo doesn’t get ‘his own toy’, he disengages and tries to ruin the game for others. However, it is my beautiful black lab, Laser, who personifies the true spirit of ‘PLAY’, no matter which toy/game is offered and for how long, he is always ready to play. Results: Even when I have an intimation on my phone for a visitor or vendor to be given permission, Laser has started to second that with a bark and runs to the door to wait for the doorbell to ring and see who or what has come.

In my perspective, Adaptology can be envisioned as:

  • Not just an ability or an attitude. It is a capacity that can be expanded through increased awareness and acumen.
  • It is the ‘In The Moment’ awareness of scanning your environment to seek clarity on what’s happening, what’s available, and what needs to happen first
  • It is the “laser-sharp” ability to prioritize, declutter, and engage all senses simultaneously for various purposes. It’s not the same as multitasking – it’s more like using your eyes to observe a minute while simultaneously listening to tonal cues to fully understand what’s being communicated.

What happens when you are being adaptable?

It’s like asking what happens when you are Human? The question I asked myself standing outside the Being Human brand and the answer I got is in TATA cancer hospital where Salman Khan uses a part of the revenues for cancer patients. The intent is clear when he says Being Human.

Being Adaptable is similarly the capacity to spot a changing context and shift our behaviors and mindsets, individual and collective, to achieve a goal. As a trainer, there are several times I am before a class and realize that what this group needs is very different from what I had anticipated. In these situations, I mentally tweak the style, approach, content, level of engagement, and at times even the cultural context in my mind, making it entirely about the learners. How much I know and what kind of an expert I am, DOESN’T MATTER THERE. What matters is my Adaptability Quotient to help the group,

  • Make meaning of what I am telling them
  • See value in what I am telling them
  • Engage with their own capacity to add or build on what I am telling them.

In Conclusion, Adaptability in a triangular view would lead to three capabilities when used with awareness and acumen:

Take a moment to reflect!

What is The Psychology of your shift and to what degree are you leveraging it wisely in your:

  • Relationships
  • Career Choices
  • Leadership Decisions
  • Community Development
  • Personal Lifestyle and Well being

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