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  • Writer's pictureDr. Francis Battisti & Dr. Helen Battisti

The Zone - Volume 76

Many of us probably remember the children’s book, The Little Engine that Could. The theme of this American folktale is to believe in oneself even when times are tough. This folktale teaches us about the importance of adaptability, a trait needed by the Little Engine and one that can be very useful today.

Adaptability is the quality of being able to be flexible and adjust to new conditions and environments. In today’s world of rapid constant change, adaptability is an important characteristic to nurture and develop. It is a beneficial key component to any successful team project. Rather than being a skill, adaptability is really a meta skill, knowing how to learn about something and when to put the learner’s mind into action.

In an excellent McKinsey & Co article (August 2, 2021) entitled, Future proof: Solving the ‘adaptability paradox’ for the long term, the authors mention the adaptability paradox. Major changes that occur and need for us to have a learner’s mindset, can also trigger fear. This fear can cause us to stick with what we know and stifle learning and innovation. The desire to develop a learning mindset while under pressure is what is required to move us forward. The authors also discuss the connect and difference between resilience and adaptability. While resilience is our responding well to external events, adaptability moves us from enduring a challenge to thriving beyond it. In a sense, resilience is bouncing back while adaptability is bouncing forward.

While each of us may have differing degrees of adaptability, there are specific skills that can be further developed to strengthen this meta skill. These can include interpersonal, communication, problem-solving, creative thinking, teamwork, and organizational skills. In addition to these skillsets, we may want to think about how we can overall improve adaptability.

  • Be Aware of Changes in Your Environment. We have often suggested that the challenges that we seem to have to react to were present in our lives for a long time and we either didn’t see them or we just did not want to.

  • Be Willing to Learn New Things. Build and refine your strengths. Seek out opportunities to take on new challenges. Read articles that may put a different spin on ideas that you have, so that you can see an issue from a different perspective.

  • Seek Feedback from Trusted Colleagues. Periodically seek from these relationships input as to how they see you and your level of adaptability during pressured times.

  • Allow time for Personal Reflection. Being more aware of what your mind and body are telling you is important to this process. Remember that when we are the most uncomfortable, that is when the most learning can take place. We tend to change and improve when we are in pain rather than comfort.

  • Establish Growth Goals for Yourself. Assess the above-mentioned skillsets and establish Action Planning on which to strengthen and improve. Also, ask yourself how you will know when you have reached your goal.


Key Takeaways

  • Resilience and adaptability are linked.

  • The importance of developing a learning mindset.

  • Adaptability is a meta skill that can be improved.

Best Practices

  • Read or reread The Little Engine That Could.

  • Assess and commit to what needs to be strengthened with your adaptability meta skill.

  • Be aware of changes before they become changes.

Things to Limit

  • Thinking that all changes have an ending.

  • Not paying attention to our fears.

  • Telling yourself that “I Can’t.


Quote of the Week

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

~ Leon C. Megginson


Being adaptable to our everyday lives is such an important trait to refine and strengthen. Numerous studies indicate a positive correlation between adaptability and well-being and happiness.

Be well,

The paraDocs

Check our Welcome Greeting on YouTube

The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.

We have developed "The ZONE", because that is exactly where you want to be during this pandemic. A place of focused attention to doing exactly what needs to be done to get you to where you need to be. The purpose of The Zone is to provide a nationally distributed weekly mental-health and nutrition tip-sheet during times of change.

If you would like to get copies of The ZONE that you may have missed or if you know someone that would like to start receiving The ZONE, please signup today... It's free and you can unsubscribe anytime.

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