Shifting from coping to adapting. 3 key strategies to help you make that transition
Being surrounded by constant change as a leader doesn’t always mean you are great at adapting to it. Taking on board “everything” is very different to being able to take on “anything.” Yet many of us fall into the trap of taking on-board everything the boss throws at us to prove we can adapt. It might look like that you are adapting to everyone on the outside but on the in-side it’s different. More hours at work, fewer hours at home equate to more pressure to perform and it’s never going to end. These are all warning signs of coping rather adapting and you know that this needs to change. In fact it’s vital for the long term success of your career, relationships, your organisation and your wellbeing.
So what’s the real difference between coping and adapting?
Coping is reactive, constant “firefighting” with a focus on survival. It often degrades the resource base available to you and can lead to burnout. Adapting focuses on alternatives, changing the status quo and engaging with adversity with a sense of purpose and meaning. It’s a subtle shift leading to different action. Think about the people around you who display these attributes:
- Getting the job done
- Short term & immediate
- Continuous practice & sustained results Fire-fighting
- Reacting to stressors
- Orientated to survival
- Degrades the resource base
- Getting it done and improving the process
- Continuous practice & sustained results
- Innovating and planning
- Neutralises future stressors
- Orientated towards longer term security
- Takes ownership
- Uses resource efficiently & sustainability
The difference between coping and adapting allows you to think outside the box. It can be the difference between managing through and leading the way. Or burning out from or engaging with a demanding opportunity, presenteeism and purpose. If you want to make the shift from coping to adapting here are three strategies to guide your transition.
First, enhance your ability to quickly recover from setbacks.
Take some time out to think about how you respond to setbacks. What do you do when an obstacle lands in the way of your goal? Do you persist or give up too easily? Do you struggle to identify many ways forward or do you find it easy to improvise? Would people describe you as a pessimist, a realistic pessimist or too optimistic? Do you learn from the past or are you pre-occupied with the future? Having a solid understanding of how you recover from setbacks and using this to your advantage can really help you stand out from your peers.
Second, enhance your perspective.
Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut. Understanding your reactions under pressure and how your biases affect decision making is key to unlocking perspective. We tend to see things as a reflection of our own state of mind and awareness will allow you to get out of yourself and observe how and when you get stuck. . True leadership is an understanding of self and recognising those times when we need to get out of the way of ourselves.
Third, build high quality, strong connections that you can rely on.
Notice the word connections rather than relationships. Relationships at work suggest something enduring between two people implied by job titles. High quality connections focus on the micro-bits of interrelating at work. These micro-bits of interrelating contribute to a relationship over time and are equally important in themselves.
Focus on those moments – everyone is important. Focus on the quality of the experience and aim to build positivity and positive regard. Focus on creating mutuality rather than singularity. Focus on moving beyond the realtionship that your job title gives you and you will build strong connections you can rely on.
How would you describe the micro connections when you inter-relate with other people? How would the other person you connect with describe those moments? Not the relationship – the moments of connection.
Bringing it all together
Transitioning from coping to adapting is a process. It involves changing habits and deliberate shifts in our mind-set, awareness and behaviour. Making those moves brings positive results—for your organisation, your career and your relationships. Your wellbeing.