Adaptability, “the capacity to adjust one’s thoughts and behaviours in order to effectively respond to uncertainty, new information, or changed circumstances”, is a skill we’ve been strengthening over the past year; and one that will become even more critical as we move forward.
While the world we’re living in now may feel as if it’s an in-between space – as if the complexity and uncertainty of the past year and a half will be ending soon and then we’ll be getting back to ‘normal’, it’s not. There is no ‘back to normal’ – we don’t move backwards we only move forwards, and ‘normal’ is just what we are familiar with at a particular moment in time. ‘Normal’ is relative and always changing.
So uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity are here to stay, and our capacity to adapt to what comes our way will determine not only our results but also our wellbeing.
To strengthen adaptability we must strengthen our awareness of both the external and the internal. How strong is your awareness of both what’s happening around you, and what’s happening inside you?
For most of us, we are extremely well practiced looking outward at the events and people around us. We’ve been doing this our whole lives, as a way of staying two steps ahead of anything that’s threatening or uncomfortable. Change and uncertainty can feel threatening and uncomfortable, and as a result I’ll bet your outer awareness is strong and well honed.
What about your inner awareness?
Strengthening our internal muscle of awareness, doesn’t mean we think more about ourselves; but rather we build our capacity to feel our inner experience, witness our reactivity, hear our thoughts, and sense our emotions.
Each day we experience multiple challenges, but are also faced with new opportunities. Can you notice the opportunities amidst all the challenges? Can you hold both the challenges and the opportunities and stay focused? Can you stay connected to what’s most important to you and not get lost in the waves that keep coming?
Quiet awareness of our internal state influences our external environment because we’re better able to manifest a deeper sense of presence, articulate clear intentions, harness innovative ideas, and bring a greater sense of openness and love to our relationships.
So how can we build our inner awareness?
Try sitting still everyday.
Why sit still?
Simple – to minimize the external stimulation and the pull to focus on what’s outside of us. Sitting quietly for brief periods (as little as 3-5 minutes) will allow for a genuine and meaningful pause, and opportunity to tune inward. The longer you can sit the better, but even a few minutes a day will make a significant difference. Just sitting is not the key here (as you’re likely sitting reading these words); it’s the stillness that is essential. Not doing anything but sitting quietly, breathing slowly, and listening deeply.
To shift our current automatic pilot way of working and living, we need mini-disruptions that allow us to engage in something different. If you’re up for the challenge, find 5 minutes a day to sit quietly. If you can, schedule it early, ideally at the same time each day, so it becomes a routine. You CAN spare five minutes a day for this; in fact, the busier you are, the more important this is.
I truly believe that if you can sit still everyday, quietly, it will be a game changer for you on many levels. You will profoundly enhance your capacity to think clearly, respond thoughtfully, and act purposefully in the face of constant uncertainty. This is how we become more adaptable.
If you’d like some more support and structure for sitting still, check out this short video.
Tamar partners with leaders and teams committed to growing their leadership capacity and impact. She has extensive experience with clients from the private, non-profit, and public sectors, and has worked with clients from a variety of industries including healthcare, education, finance, communications, marketing/sales, and media. Read more about Tamar