Ep. 258 The need for adaptability


In this week’s episode, Anna looks at embracing change and adapting as you go.

“The only constant is change” as the saying goes, and perhaps this has never been more true than it is now. The world is changing at an ever faster pace and adaptability is a more important trait than ever.

In this week’s episode, we look at…

  • The stagnation and missed opportunities that can come from resisting change
  • The advantages of flexibility and evolution in solving problems and staying relevant
  • How you can develop your adaptability muscle

Tune in for more on embracing change and adapting as you go.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

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Hey, hey, hey, we are back. And it’s October and it is my birthday week, which is very exciting. I say that skeptically because I’m actually recording this far sooner, I mean way back. So it’s not actually my birthday week. But that means it’s coming soon, which is very exciting. So so the anniversary, five year anniversary cannot quite imagine believe that it’s five years since I published my first book in this space, which was leaving the corporate nine to five. So I’d love for you, of course, if you haven’t got a copy, or perhaps you’ve got a friend who’d like it, to celebrate this week with me, my birthday, and my birthday is not an important one, sadly, but an important anniversary for the book, leaving the corporate nine to five, on Amazon, and hopefully in your local bookstore as well. So do let me know, if you can’t find it there, it should now be available, I might just start leaving some copies in random bookstores and just like donate them to the to the stores, maybe at the airport. And so just leave them around.

Say, if you ever see one, then then pick it up and grab it. And believe in a corporate nine to five. And of course, my new book that came out last year, outside of the nine to five, it’s five years since the first book came out. It’s a collection of stories of people who left their corporate jobs to in fact, I mean, they they did five things right, just to recap quickly. One was they changed sector. So for example, moving from corporate into the charity sector, they another group created a portfolio career which you know, I love which is having sort of different strings to your bow, different projects, different businesses, still another went freelance, another group started a business. And finally a big group, which actually included me originally just took the leap of faith, and without knowing what it would lead to, which is very exciting. So leaving a corporate nine to five, five year anniversary this week. Tomorrow, I believe, if you’re listening to this live, and tomorrow is also my birthday. So today, we’re continuing the series of think like an entrepreneur. And I’ve recorded quite a few episodes, so I need a coffee, I’m going to pull them I’ll be back in a second. That’s what happens when you batch record podcast. Well, there you go. We’re talking about adaptability today. And it’s such an important, perhaps the most important character trait for entrepreneurs, I’d argue for pretty much anyone in business in leadership. And in fact, in life, they go It’s a bold statement today. But the only constant is change.

As the saying goes, the world is more uncertain and ambiguous than ever.

You know, it’s hard to make decisions in that context. But we need to, we need to respond flexibly to when the things change, not take things personally not get all moaning and groaning and playing the blame game. So only to be positive and resilient. Right? So adaptability, flexibility, agility, whatever you want to call it is such an important trait, whatever a role in life, I would argue. So, you know, we tend to resist change, right? I think most of us, certainly I always refer to my poor mom who, you know, like would have had would have had still a fax machine if she could, and the old analog phone, a phone, what’s it called, I don’t know what it’s called the analog film camera, and, you know, just likes to go back to the same holiday places, same hotel, and all, that’s fine. But the problem is, and that’s really important self awareness, right, and you can design your life around that. However, unfortunately, we can’t control for every circumstance. And again, the only constant is change, we’re bound to be at some point, you know, our, our stable ground is going to be shook as it were. And then we need to build to respond effectively to that. So if you are too resistant to change, then if you’re not adaptable at all, as with some of the other things we’ve been talking about, you can end up stagnating and becoming irrelevant, actually, both in your individual career and in any business ventures. Again, I mentioned these last week, I think, but the kind of Kodak’s blockbusters, blackberries of the world that just didn’t adapt, and they lost their competitive edge, they couldn’t disrupt themselves.

The same thing happens, of course, if you have a career, where you’re becoming obsolete effectively, you know, when in publishing, and, you know, and design and so on, when digital came along, if you were only working still on print, and didn’t embrace and upskill.

In digital, that was a huge limitation for where you could go. And obviously, especially difficult if you’re sort of nearing retirement age, then then you perhaps don’t have the time or inclination to retrain. And that can be quite tough. So now with AI, of course, coming as well. That’s something to bear in mind. And we can become like those big famous examples of companies irrelevant. If we don’t adapt to change, if we just kind of put our head in the sand that’s not going to be great for our future career prospects. Again, because of that, if we have that fixed mindset effectively is what we’re talking about as well. We can miss out on opportunities, right? So if we’re resisting change, yeah, we can hold on for as long as possible, but ultimately, we’ll be swept up in the winds of change. And we will have missed out, then and we’ll be far behind where we could have been, if only we’d kind of all take him or leave a little sooner. So again, it takes courage, right? It takes a growth mindset takes courage, and we would have had the opportunity to grow and expand in that time that we were kind of fighting it. So you know, if we’re fighting a losing battle, actually, it’s smarter to to give up sooner, I suppose, and to admit the fact that we need to change something. And rather than hang on for dear life until it’s too late, and it can make us really rigid in our decision making. Now, we’ve always done it that way. Nope. That’s what I’m gonna do. Yeah.

But you know, and we just kind of cling to those outdated strategies and things.

And there’s, of course, a reason, right, there’s just like, there’s a reason for staying in our comfort zone. There, there are probably good reasons for holding on to the way we’ve done things. And it’s also quite difficult, let’s be honest to know, when it’s time to let go and completely disrupt that takes a lot of courage again, right. So all of these different traits of thinking like an entrepreneur are all interlinked. But ultimately, that’s where, you know, we become irrelevant whether as an individual as a company, we’re going to be stagnating, missing those opportunities, and hinder progress effectively. On the other hand, if we can be more adaptable, agile, and flexible, we can navigate those changing business landscapes, right, we can pivot off strategies and response to market shifts, we can upskill, where we realize oops, I don’t know how to do that yet, let’s let’s quickly, you know, try to learn that or let’s work with a coach to develop this particular skill, or whatever it is to kind of work on that blind spot. You know, being more adaptable means that we kind of except for the things we can’t change, and instead, we focus our energy on finding a solution, finding what’s often going to be an innovative solution to address that challenge rather than Oh, this is so unfair, I can’t believe it. It’s so hard. And I’m not, you know, trivializing this. Because it can be really hard, it is really hard. But we waste so much time and energy on being angry and frustrated. Rather than get this has happened now suck it up, scream of it cry a bit, by all means, but then move on to get okay. Right. So what can we do? And I often I did a training on this kind of topic, and often share the example of one of my first work projects where I developed and I was so passionate about the concept I think happened twice. So I finally learned the lesson. When I was first starting out as an assistant brand manager, and the general manager, whoever it was, would just say, Oh, no, we don’t do black in this category. Okay, or No, I don’t we don’t like the animal. Okay, so we’ve done all this research, creative work with agency, we’re so passionate and intrinsically motivated by these things. And yet, you know, a senior experienced expert person says, nope, and, you know, as kind of an Petrus child, I hate to when things are illogical. And people just say, No, I like to kind of push and go, no, why, why, why? And I like to try to persuade them. But that doesn’t always work. And we have to go, okay, that’s frustrating. But take the emotion out of it. Right. Except that this has happened, they have every right to as a more experienced expert leader of this brand to make their decision. And I now have to focus on okay, how can we agree, regroup, salvage what we have, and find a way not to delay this project and still deliver on time for the launch? In a way that’s going to work for everybody, right. And that’s what we need to shift to, rather than, Oh, it’s so frustrating, so unfair, and I’ve done this work, it’s not fair. So being more agile, you know, being adaptable finding solutions that’s so necessary, and always has been and only becomes more important, and obviously, to continue to be relevant in the market.

As the market drops and changes. We need to embrace that change, we need to stay in tune with customer needs and preferences, right?

That’s sort of marketing one on one, business 101 from back in my corporate days as well. So whether it’s the generational shifts of Gen Z coming up and having different interests, obviously, the millennials used to be the folk that were so difficult to appease now, it’s the next generation, understanding those different needs and different media, different formats, different platforms, understanding the sort of social, socio economic things that are happening, things in diversity, we talked about psychological safety last week, et cetera, et cetera. That’s, you know, these are things that we need to be sensitive to and respond to and being adaptable. And listening, being open to these things being empathetic and so on are such such crucial traits to have. So okay, if you know that you’re a little bit rigid, maybe like I used to be me, I’m still like that. Who knows? I certainly try not to be maybe a little bit like my mom who prefers you know, to to do what you’ve always done. Or at least you know, what you like, which, you know, that’s fair enough, I think too. But you know, embracing lifelong learning is one of those things I


just think we have to do. I’m such an advocate for staying up to date, you know, it’s not about industry trends so much. For me, it’s more about reading, listening to podcasts. Just being interested, just being curious, talking to people. You know, there’s when we’re making decisions, I think in our business, there’s the initial stage at least is, is opening up and just exploring, trying not to filter too soon. And just being sort of expansive and exploring and listening and learning, then yes, we need to narrow down and filter feasibility in order to make a decision. But start off, you know, always be open to learning, hearing different perspectives, reading and seeing what’s going on, we definitely need to be open to feedback, right? It’s so easy to against, it’s not fair, like Who are they to say this than the other, but try to look for even the tiniest nugget of relevant feedback, what could I do differently? If you hear something from someone, you know, that, you know? How dare they criticize my amazing thing that I’ve done? But really look for, okay, what is there in there that I could take as constructive criticism, and then, you know, make informed adjustments to the strategies I’m following. And within this adaptability topic, again, we come back to courage and experimenting and taking risks, getting over comfort zone, testing new approaches, in a corporate environment, especially, you know, there’s a lot of talk about how we embrace failure and mistakes and so on. And that’s not always the case, in reality and the culture. And likewise, you know, I certainly don’t have that. I mean, I can take little risks in my business, because partly, I have the foundation part is just me that I’m accountable to right, yes, I have to support my whole family, and so on, contribute, but generally, I don’t have a boss or get angry at me, I’m not disappointing shareholders, I don’t have the board. I don’t have you know, the everything else, the whole corporate shebang.

So I can take a few more risks. But generally, we’re actually much more risk adverse risk averse than we perhaps want to need to be. So we’re not talking about taking crazy ridiculous risks, you know, that whole ask for forgiveness rather than permission, I don’t quite align with that. And I totally respect you, if you’re in corporate not wanting to like rip everything up and risk your whole career. And yet, within that framework, there is an opportunity to experiment to try some little pilots. See how things go, you know, that’s really the mindset of an entrepreneur, some little mini projects that aren’t going to risk the whole business, you try that out over here, you go where the energy is in the teams, you know, you give it a go. And then when it’s working, you can test it more comprehensively, you can roll it out. But that’s really powerful to try these small little projects, test experiment. And then then yeah, you can go from there. So that’s adaptability. So they’d love to hear from you where you feel you you stand on the scale of adaptability. Are you super flexible to the point of maybe being too adaptable to like the winds of change and not kind of not having enough conviction and direction in terms of the guiding Northstar that you’re following? While you’re at the other end of the spectrum, where you’re like, Oh, now I’ve got this, I’ve decided this is what I’m doing stop like interfering with me stop changing things. It’s pretty frustrating. I think most of us are somewhere in the middle there, right? But we can certainly work on being more adaptable, and more flexible and accepting that change is going to happen. So how can we be resilient to that and how can we make good decisions in that context? So that’s adaptability today. We are talking growth mindset next week. So super important. Coming from Carol Dweck talks originally growth mindset versus fixed mindset, but really this bigger topic of lifelong learning and how important that is, in your in your work again, whether you’re an entrepreneur, an intrapreneur, or something else entirely. I will see you then. Bye for now.


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