The Adaptability Paradox
March 28, 2012 5 Comments
The Well Worn Path
Recently in the “Strategic Thinking for Leaders” Class I teach, I talked with students about how difficult it can be to change when we have been successfully doing something the same way for a long time.
The well worn path that we have followed for years is easy to follow. We know the rules, the processes, the tools, the pitfalls and all other aspects of that path.
Our comfort with that path makes it harder for us to see that even though the ‘way we have always done things’ has led us to success in the past, it may not in the future.
The Adaptability Paradox
Sometimes the familiarity of the well worn path makes it harder for us to see what’s changing around us. And even if we do see changes, we have to choose to adapt to them. One element that makes it difficult for us to easily embrace change is the time involved in learning new ways of doing things.
Learning Through Change
Adapting to change and learning new ways of doing our work makes our jobs easier – but only after an adjustment period. The paradox is this – When I adapt to change, it will be MORE DIFFICULT short term and also EASIER long term.
More Difficult - Initially, we must accept that it will be more difficult as we learn new tools, skills and approaches.
Easier - Long-term, our productivity will increase and it will be easier for us to get work done. When we learn through the changes, our lives and work become EASIER because we are approaching them in new successful ways – with new thinking, new tools, new information and new skills.
Here are some of the warning signs that our skills are becoming outdated:
- People are routinely using terminology we don’t know
- It is becoming more difficult to get things done the way we’ve always done them
- People are not seeking out our input the way they used to
- Coworkers are adapting to new approaches and are more productive than we are
- There are new studies, books and articles being mentioned that we haven’t read
- There is free technology for improving efficiency in our line of business that we aren’t using
- We feel out of the loop somehow but can’t quite figure out why
If we miss the signs of change (or if we see the signs but do not adapt), our skills become outdated fast – just as fast as the speed of change.
When a change in the world, our world, becomes a change we’ve ignored, then by doing nothing, we are actively choosing the more difficult path in the long run.
Questions for Reflection:
1. In what areas have I been missing the warning signs that my skills are becoming outdated?
2. How will I choose the easier path in the future by learning through these areas now?
3. How much easier and more productive could my work be after I make these changes?
- Team Discussion Guide - “How Well are we Staying Current?”
- Blog Post “100 Trends to Watch in 2012″
- Blog Post “5 Unethical Phrases: Refusing to Change”
- Blog Post “Becoming Business Leader Future”
Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO/Owner of Leading in Context. She is on a mission to clarify what it means to lead ethically in a complex world. Before becoming an external consultant, Linda was Chief Learning Officer and Senior Vice President for Central Fidelity Bank, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. She teaches Leadership as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies.
There are timely resources for leaders throughout the website. See How to Use the Leading in Context® Website.