Adaptability: Fully Present in the Now

A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight

"People exceptionally talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to go with the flow. They tend to be "now" people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time." -The Gallup Organization

Both my mom AND my brother have a dominant Adaptability theme. They have always been cool and calm under pressure.

As it turns out, Adaptability is #33 for me (out of 34 themes in case you were wondering!). Anyone who knows we well will tell you that I crave routine, structure, and predictability, which typically means I don't stay present in the moment.

So I've got a lot of theme envy about Adaptability, because I've seen the powerful ways that my loved ones and my colleagues high in this theme thrive in the "now" and roll with the punches.

Cool and calm under pressure.

The Talents of People High in Adaptability

Those high in Adaptability are exceptional at adjusting to the needs of the moment, especially when it comes to the needs of other people or groups of people. They are flexible and confident in their ability to figure it out or solve problems on the spot. When others struggle to adapt when things don't go as planned, those high in Adaptability bring a composed approach to the task at hand. In fact, they tend to have a calming effect on others, and always seem to know what to say or do to reduce anxiety or uncertainty.

People high in Adaptability are also able to roll with the punches, so to speak. Typically, they aren't as discouraged by unexpected change or difficult transitions. This isn't to say that they don't get stressed or frustrated at times, but that their outlook on chaotic or challenging seasons is often more optimistic in nature.

Again, cool and calm under pressure.

Those high in Adaptability are often at their best when working on shorter-term projects or tasks that require tighter deadlines. The ability to live in the present keeps them agile, both in their relationships and in their project management.

The Temptations for People High in Adaptability

Because those high in Adaptability prefer to go with the flow and adjust to the needs of the moment, they can struggle when asked to make long term goals or commitments. Typically they don't have an intuitive feel about how to plan and schedule for the long-haul. In fact, they can feel very overwhelmed when asked to engage in long-term vision casting or planning.

Additionally, it can be tempting for an individual high in Adaptability to be tentative about mid-to-long-term decision-making. And because of this, if they don't learn to communicate well about their ability to adapt, others can perceive them as directionless or unpredictable. And because they are so great at reacting to their environments, those high in Adaptability are sometimes accused of not being proactive in their leadership approach.

One individual we know high in Adaptability said the following about her theme:

"As soon as everyone in the meeting started talking about vision casting for 10-15 years down the road, I felt lost. I'm not as equipped to have those kinds of conversations because I don't think about the future that way. I think about the future as specific moments I'll find myself in one day."

Isn't that a beautiful way to describe an Adaptability theme? Even so, you can hear in her comments that she feels the struggle to contribute to conversations about the future.

Adjust to Your Adaptability

Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Adaptability theme:

  1. Watch for those around you who are struggling in chaotic or stressful seasons. They need your calming presence and the poise you bring to the table. Offer to help them make quick decisions or react to the pressures of the moment.

  2. While you likely won't gravitate towards long-term planning, make sure you schedule some time to craft short-term goals and think about where those short term goals will take you in the future.

  3. When you partner with others or work in a team environment, make sure you communicate well about timelines and/or deadlines. While you work very well under pressure, many who you work with will not, and will struggle if they don't have a sense of the scope and time-frame of a project.

At ROI Talent Development, we try to help people fall in love with every single talent theme, even if it isn't dominant in their own theme sequence. Because when we all take the time to understand and appreciate one another, we build happy and healthy workplaces where employee talents are valued and developed.

So take some time this week to encourage your coworkers who have dominant Adaptability themes. Express your gratitude for the ways they go with the flow and help others stay composed during difficult or stressful projects.

And watch them thrive in the moment.

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