After moving across country from Florida to California, I wrote and published an article for the American Bamboo Society’s magazine. It was called “Lessons from grass, being like bamboo.” The radical (Chinese) character for bamboo represents the stems and leaves of bamboo. It’s the one on the left below. It looks a little like two T’s.
When I was getting my second tattoo, I wanted something to express my desire to simplify my life, as well as show my appreciation for Chinese culture. I investigated getting the word ‘simplify’ in Chinese. I asked my Chinese philosophy professor, who spoke and wrote Chinese, to write it out for me. As it turns out, the character for simplify, although difficult to see, contains the character for bamboo.
He explained to me that the character could be broken down as having bamboo over a door, plus the second part of the character, which is a qualifier (the act of making things simple). The bamboo over the door means to open the door to the fresh air, to open oneself to life. This character perfectly embodies the Adaptability talent theme.
Another aspect of bamboo that drew me to it was its flexibility. To be flexible in life is a key to being in harmony with it. Bamboo has an innate grace and gives off a profound sense of stillness; even in the greatest of storms it is in harmony with the storm. This contrasts sharply with, say, an oak. Oaks are strong and formidable, growing tall and thick. However, this strength and rigidity can also be its downfall, as a strong wind can knock its limbs off or even knock the whole tree down.
Bamboo is not as susceptible to this, since it will bend with the wind and then move back to its original state. This flexibility is effortless; it is part of the bamboo’s nature to be such. For those of us with the Adaptability talent, we operate more like bamboo.
I realized that the more flexible I was about the cross country move, I less stressed I became. It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered that the Theme of Adaptability was my #6 Strength Theme. Even before I knew the language of strengths, my talents were very present in how I do things. Imagine how some people rigidly hold on to the past at work. They’re like the oak tree. For those of us with Adaptability, we can roll with the changes. We don’t feel the need to resist change with our arms folded. Instead, the more amiable we are to the change, the more we help the team stay in flow. If you lead through Adaptability like me, you’re probably not the type to get your feathers ruffled over changes at work. You adapt. And you go forward with flexibility.
Why You Need To Invest In Your StrengthsFinder Talent of Adaptability
If you lead through Adaptability, you likely love spontaneity. For me, it often shows up in how I respond to change. If I can connect with my Adaptability, my stress and tension often decreases.
If your Adaptability theme is still in the development phases, don’t worry. Even moderate access to this theme can help you adapt to changes in the workplace or personal life. Remember, people with high Adaptability are the quintessential “go with the flow” type people. This can even help in small ways at work. Since you embrace change, you can help other people be more comfortable with change. When they see that you respond calmly, they’re likely to respond that way too.
The Superpower of Your StrengthsFinder Talent of Adaptability
People who have natural Adaptability tend to go with the flow. They’re flexible.
If you lead through Adaptability, the more you are able to let go of stressors, the more relaxed and in-control you will feel.
I remember being very stressed about the cross-country move to California, as I was doing it without a job and for a woman I just started dating that year. I remember very clearly the moment I let go of the stressors and realized (hoped) that everything would work out in the end.
The move was not easy, and there were certainly times when anxiety took over. Having Adaptability is not that you are stress-proof, it is that we tend to bounce back quickly.
Each time I took a moment and breathed, and decided to go with the flow, I could feel the tension decrease. In times of change and stress, take a moment to step back and breathe, and realize that it will probably work out in the end.
Applying Your Adaptability Strength on The Job
If Adaptability is dominant for you, consider the enjoyment if you consciously use it more often. I’m going to champion change in organizations that I work with. What will you do?
Here are three ideas for ways you can invest in your Adaptability Talent:
- Your calmness during times of change can help others within your organization feel more comfortable with changes as well. Allow others to see your calm and presence.
- At your best, you’re fully present and in this moment. There is no tomorrow. There is no yesterday. There is only right now. Your attention makes others feel important. Offer it freely.
- Acknowledge your preference for procrastination and understand that it might frustrate others. Be transparent about your need to work under pressure.
Bonus ideas! Here are some other career scenarios for applying the Adaptability Talent Theme in your career:
- Promote change actively; lead change
- Bring insights to others – help them see how everything is going to be fine
- Establish a new process for something that’s out of control at work
- Put people at ease when they’re stressed or confused, even if it’s simply by modeling your ease and grace
- Get motivated when you’ve been procrastinating. Remember…”If you wait to the last minute, it only takes a minute.”
Joe is a Gallup Certified StrengthsFinder Coach with a background in education. He has taught for a nationally recognized university and earned his doctorate in education with a focus on Educational Leadership. Over the last 5 years, he has leaned heavily on his Strength Themes, particularly Positivity. He used his natural talents to survive a brain tumor, 4 subsequent surgeries, and a recent cardiac bypass. He learned that strengths give you strength, and has made it his life’s work to help people embrace their natural talents.
Joe’s Top 5 CliftonStrengths Themes: Empathy | Developer | Positivity | Strategic | Connectedness