This Decade's Most Sought-After Skill
Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! The 20-preteens (or tweens) are upon us.
There is a skill that employers are seeking in new hires and long-time
employees that is perhaps best illustrated by peeking inside of Kentucky's
For centuries there have been fish living in the waters in Mammoth Cave.
They live in the pitch black that has always been their home. Over time
they have adapted to their lightless surroundings. In their present state
the fish are opaque and eyeless. The form that a life takes to cope with its
environment is simply amazing.
The skill? Adaptability. Douglas T. Hall said "adaptability is the capacity
to change: including both the competence and the motivation to do so." We
love that Hall included the second part of this definition. Pam and I have
long believed that almost everyone has the capacity to change; and what
separates average people from the rest is the motivation to change.
My mother has an 83-year-young friend who continues to work--full time.
She's seen her work life change dramatically. From switchboards to cell
phones; stenography to texting; paper to paperless; and streetcars to green
buses. That's adaptability.
Adaptability isn't only an individual skill-it can also be an organizational
skill. Some have it and some don't.
Blockbuster ignored new technology and competition to hang onto "what used
to be" as Netflix soared ahead offering movie downloads and rentals. They
recognized not all customers would be ready for new media at the same time.
I have to give Isotoner/Totes a lot of credit. They were founded in 1924-a
long time before cell phones. Yet, they are marketing a product called
SmarTouch that allows you to text/phone while wearing your gloves. Great for
those of us who live in Chicago. That's adaptability.
Casinos in Laughlin, NV now rent motorized scooters for $40 a day to seniors
who find Vegas intimidating. That's adaptability.
Progressive libraries are now lending e-book readers and e-books. They
aren't afraid that technology will run them out of business, they're
embracing it and taking information resourcing to the next level. That's
So, how adaptable are you? Answer yes or no to these questions for a quick,
unscientific survey of your adaptability:
- Is your cell phone ring the one your phone came with?
- Is your hair style the same as you had in college?
- Is there a Trimline phone on your nightstand?
- Do you park in the same place every day?
- Do you sit in the same pew every week?
- Do you think video games are a waste of time?
- Do you still rent DVDs?
- Do you file your taxes by mail?
If you answered more than 5 questions with a 'yes' stretch toward greater
adaptability. A great place to start is with one of the questions above.
Change your cell phone ring, hairstyle, parking place-you'll be surprised by
the new perspective.
What else can you do to become more adaptable? Just get curious. Visit an
Apple or Garmin store and play with the devices. Go to your local cell phone
store and ask to see the latest phones. Try the odd looking fruit in the
produce section. Better yet, visit an international store and see how many
fruits and vegetables you didn't even know existed. Order a new wine. Eat
the Chef's special-even if the ingredients don't seem to go together.
The truth is-in our private lives we can remain as staid as we like (and our
loved ones can stand). In our work lives it's different. If we don't adapt,
we become irrelevant and replaceable. I'm striving to be the Adaptability
Subtle is just too...Subtle
People don't get subtle; especially in the workplace. Subtlety in our communication is often the cause of much miscommunication and frustration. By definition subtle is indirect and therefore ineffective-in our communication.
Be direct-say what you mean. Pam says, "say what's in your head-with discretion."
Got it? Good.