Challenges will come. It is a fact.
How you adapt during these challenges will determine your future. Sometimes challenges come fast and unexpectedly.
In her book, Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott writes about interviewing an executive of a failed company. When she asked him about the failure, he answered, “it happened slowly and then suddenly.”
Many executives would probably have the same answer about failure. In most cases, we do not see it coming until it is too late, but the reality is that the signs were there all along. Failure happens due to leaders who are unwilling to see the signs of change and to adapt to impending change.
A prime example of this is Blockbuster Video. In 1992, Blockbuster was the king of video rental in the world. Today, there is only one Blockbuster store. How did this happen?
The main reason they failed was because they refused to make changes or adaptations in their business model in the face of mail-order DVD and later streaming services like Netflix.
Leaders who are inflexible in the wake of change will break, and their business model will break.
Adaptation does not require changing course, it just requires flexibility. Flexibility can be hard when you have sat in the same position for a long time. This is true mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Here are three areas where you can be more flexible, adapt and win…
Mental flexibility: Think differently
Leaders think differently. They think strategically and are able to hold multiple frameworks in their mind at the same time. They consistently run through scenarios and are able to shift and take action to incorporate necessary change.
This requires vision and nimble thinking, with an eye for new approaches that can help your team win. Leaders who are mentally flexible learn from experience and have a keen awareness when things are beginning to feel stale and outdated.
Emotional Flexibility: Feel different
Leaders feel emotions just like everybody else. What makes them different? They are not controlled by their emotions.
They understand that feeling overwhelmed or frustrated is just a part of life and that emotions are temporary. They are flexible enough to feel what they need to feel but they are relentlessly optimistic while being grounded in reality. They are masters at compartmentalizing their emotions. They give themselves permission to feel what they need to feel for a very limited time. They process their emotions appropriately and are able to acknowledge a set back while simultaneously visualizing a better future.
situational flexibility: act differently
Leaders act differently. Leaders do not freeze in the face of challenge. Their curiosity and situational awareness allow them to shift strategies. They are able to take action on the different strategies that they have mentally prepared for, and apply them to game-time situations.
They are also intentional about building communities with strong support systems. This allows them to collaborate with people who have vested interests in winning together. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, great leaders take action.
Years ago, a massive wind storm came through Louisville. It was generated from a hurricane from the southern coast of the United States. The winds were powerful and surprisingly uprooted many trees, causing considerable damage. Hundreds of trees covered the streets. Power was out for many people across the city for days.
It was surprising how many trees were uprooted during the storm. If the same wind speeds were happening in South Florida, there wouldn’t be nearly the same amount of damage. Why? Because the trees in South Florida are used to the wind. Have you ever seen a palm tree on the beach that is slightly bent? That is a tree that has stood against some massive force. That is a tree that has adapted. Their roots are strengthened because of the force put on them.
In a way, the trees anticipate the storms and adapt. We can too. We just have to be strong enough to bend when the wind comes.
Are you flexible? Are you willing to adapt? It is the only way to win.