What Abandonment Taught Me About Adaptability & Success

I babysat a little girl frequently when I was in middle school. Her parents went into work really early on Saturday mornings. I’d sleep over at their house on Friday night so I could spend Saturday morning playing with their little girl until her parents got off work at lunchtime.

One Friday night, when I was 13, my dad told me I was going to go babysit for them again. Little did I know that would be the last time I ever lived with my dad.

I didn’t hear from him for about six months. When I finally did get a call from him, it wasn’t because he wanted me back. It was because the government was forcing me to move in with someone else and he was calling to deliver the news.

As this new season of life began, I added to the pain of it all. I was a hurt teenager and I reacted by acting out as any hurt child might do. It took me a while to figure out that I was only hurting myself by making choices that could take me further away from where I really wanted to be.

Lesson Learned
It was then that I figured out I needed to acknowledge my feelings instead of acting on them — a lesson that has served me well in my personal and professional life ever since. If I was going to get where I wanted to be, I needed to act differently.

I decided to shift my focus — to adapt in a way that would keep me on the path that would move me forward, not backward.

In this season, I learned many lessons to make me stronger, smarter, more resilient, and more grounded. And it only solidified my certainty that taking ownership of your actions and reactions is the only way to guarantee your future.

I learned…

• not to give up but to push through.
• life is not fair, but you have a chance to flip the script.
• choosing positive actions, even when you don’t feel like it, leads to positive results.
• the willingness and ability to adapt is the x-factor for success.

Let’s dig deeper into adaptability.

Where Are You Right Now?
When it comes to adaptability, where do you find yourself? Do you live your life to people-please. Or are you dead set on #DoingYou and refuse to adapt at all?

I have to tell you, both ends are dangerous. You risk losing yourself or losing your opportunity. It’s the area in between you need to be aware of and work toward.

If you believe you should not have to adapt, and everyone should accept you just as you are — you’re likely getting in the way of your own success. If you think acting “in the moment” means staying true to who you are — I say in love — you’re wrong. That mindset can suck all the momentum out of forward progress. If you find yourself there right now, reconsider your approach and consider owning your adaptability skill.

Hear me carefully: adapting does not mean you change who you are at your core. It means, as things happen, you adjust your attitudes and behaviors to make sure you still win. As you adapt, you should never compromise your integrity or your character. You should never act immorally. But if the adapted choice aligns with your core values and is something you can change, do it!

Adaptability Matrix
Most situations in your life will involve other people. And your ability to adapt to different people impacts the results you get.

In order to adapt well, you need to be hyperaware of yourself and the people around you.This means analyzing exactly what you are thinking and feeling; what others are thinking and feeling; and how you can best interact with the person or situation in the moment.

Now, do not misunderstand me. I am not flirting with the idea of manipulating people. First, manipulation has a negative connotation as if someone is losing. I am talking about a win-win for everyone.

But I am talking about taking ownership of how other people treat you. If you want people to act in a way that is positive for you, then you have to adapt the way you interact with them so it is a positive experience for them as well.

I’ve created an Adaptability Matrix to help you see what I mean. Use it to help you know what to do going forward. Take a picture of it — print it out — burn it into your memory — so that you begin taking action in a way that gets you the results you want!

(The Adaptability Matrix is self-explanatory except in one area. Aligns With Law” refers to the “Lay Down the Law” process I teach in Chapter 2 of my book, Level Up. To really understand this tool, you can get the book HERE, or read more about the goal setting process HERE)

Adaptability: The Stealth Skill
It took a painful childhood experience for me to understand the impact adaptability has on achieving success. I don’t want pain to be the teacher for you.

So whether it’s at work, at home, or in your community — regardless of what is happening to you or around you — you control your future. Choosing to adapt is a choice for you, not against you.

You’re adapting your style, not your heart. Make sure you don’t get stuck in an arrogant, ignorant, and defeated place where you think staying true to you means never changing for anyone else. If you take that approach, you might just get stuck never knowing how good you could have had it if you just would have owned it.

Instead, choose to be constantly hyperaware of what is really happening in the minds and hearts of yourself and the people around you — then you will be able to adapt the right way every time. When you learn to adapt correctly, you win.

© Alyson Van Hooser   All Rights Reserved.


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