Teamwork and personal rigidity just don’t mix. If you want to work well with others and be a good team player, you have to be willing to adapt yourself to your team. Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter observed, “The individuals who will succeed and flourish will also be masters of change: adapt at reorienting their own and others’ activities in untried directions to bring about higher levels of achievement.”
PERSONAL EXAMPLE OF ADAPTABILITY: Michael J. Fox
NEW YORK — He’s 47, the father of four, and 18 years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But Michael J. Fox, just released his second memoir, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist (Hyperion, 25.99).
Seated on a couch in his office, the former star of Family Ties, Back to the Future and Spin City is in constant motion with the uncontrollable tremors characteristic of Parkinson’s. His hands and legs shake, sometimes noticeably, sometimes barely at all. When his heels start clicking on the wooden floor, he stands up to pace the room and take more medication.
“Don’t get up because I’m getting up,” he advises. “I’ll just pace back and forth.” Which he does, as his words never slow down about the themes of his book: work, politics, faith and family. Mostly, it’s about optimism and making choices. “The only unavailable choice was whether or not to have Parkinson’s,” he writes. “Everything else was up to me.”
He says he does explain how his symptoms look to curious kids who are “wonderfully straightforward.” A few years ago, he visited his youngest daughter’s preschool, where an exasperated classmate admonished Fox: “Will you quit moving around!” Fox says he eventually managed to stop laughing long enough to promise her he’d give it a shot.
Fox says he has no doubt a cure can be found for Parkinson’s: “The only question is when.” Despite the struggling economy, he says, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is “thriving.” It reports raising $142 million for research, and as New York Times financial columnist Joe Nocera wrote last year, “It has managed to become, in its short seven-year life, the most credible voice on Parkinson’s research in the world.” Fox says the foundation was “built to be obsolete, to go out of business once there’s a cure. We’re not a bank with a big endowment. We don’t stockpile money. When the money comes in, we fund promising research.”
Last fall, he taped five episodes of FX’s Rescue Me. It was a daunting assignment, Fox says. “He’s a paraplegic, for crying out loud, and I’m a human whirligig. But although he has little in common with his character on Rescue Me, Fox says, “I know about loss, I know about life rearranged, purpose re-examined, fate’s broadsides. After all, I don’t do this (acting) for a living anymore; I’ve moved on. But I wasn’t evicted, it was my choice. Therefore, I can go back when and if I choose. There are too many reasons to expect that I can pull this off to let Parkinson’s convince me that I can’t.”
by Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY (http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2009-03-30-michael-j-fox_N.htm)
Diana Nyad said, “I am willing to put myself through anything—temporary pain or discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level. I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through breaking barriers.” Adaptable people always place a high priority on breaking new ground. They are highly teachable.
Prov. 15:33 The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Prov. 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
TO KNOW WHETHER YOU’RE TEACHABLE, ASK YOURSELF:
- Am I open to other people’s thoughts and ideas?
- Do I listen more than I talk?
- Am I willing to change my opinion based on new information?
- Do I readily admit when I am wrong?
- Do I think and observe before acting on a situation?
- Do I ask questions? Am I willing to ask a question that will expose my ignorance?
- Am I open to doing things in a way I haven’t done them before?
- Am I willing to ask for directions?
- Do I act defensively when criticized (http://www.ucb.co.uk/word_for_today)
2) EMOTIONALLY SECURE
Another characteristic of adaptable people is security. People who are not emotionally secure see almost everything as a challenge or threat. They meet with rigidity or suspicion the addition of another talented person to the team, an alteration in their position or title, or change in the way things are done. But secure people aren’t made nervous by change itself. They evaluate a new situation or a change in their responsibilities based on its merit.
CRITERIA FOR INSECURE PEOPLE
Prov. 15:12 A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.
- They won’t take advice from people not like themselves
- They are the kind of people are constantly trying to prove something
- They may tend to lie to make themselves look good in front of others
- They are ashamed to let others know who they really are
- When they are corrected, they typically feel rejected
CRITERIA FOR SECURE PEOPLE
Prov. 15:32 He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
- They can be corrected, without feeling rejected
- They are teachable
- They listen to constructive criticism
3) HOW TO BECOME MORE ADAPTABLE
- Get into the habit of learning – Learn something new everyday!
- Reevaluate your role – Am I operating in the 1Thing that God gave me to do?
- Think outside the lines – Ask: “Not why it CAN’T be done but how it CAN be done.”
IF YOU WON’T CHANGE FOR THE TEAM, THE TEAM MAY CHANGE YOU