For fifty years, Easter Sunday has been remarkably similar. Wake up to Easter baskets and sneak a few Peeps. Sit down to a large brunch before heading to church. Hunt for eggs after church, then a lull, and usually more Peeps. The final highlight of the day is an Easter dinner extravaganza. The faces and locations may differ and of course, last year, church services moved to Zoom and the egg hunt to our yard, but the flow was still the same.
As we prepared for Easter this year, Mr. Stevens and I unexpectedly got called to get a vaccine. By Easter morning, I was sporting a high fever and chills. By afternoon, he was exhausted and sound asleep. We finally just acknowledged the obvious - neither of us was in any condition to make, nor did we want to eat, Easter dinner. But no Easter dinner at all? That just seemed so sad, plus we had really good lamb chops we didn’t want to waste. Ultimately, we celebrated Easter dinner on Tuesday as formally, and as deliciously, as if it were Sunday.
If this year has demanded one skill in particular, it’s adaptability. According to research by Salesforce, adaptability is the most important skill for employees over the next 6 months - beating out other options like resilience, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and coding/web app development.
I’ll admit that I’m one of those leaders who likes clear directions and organized plans. It is no surprise to anyone who knows me well that my Myers-Briggs personality description is “the Field Marshal”. But somehow, I have also learned to adapt well to change and maintain perspective and keep a sense of humor even in difficult situations. In reading about adaptability skills, I would chalk it up to three habits I realize now that I practice regularly:
1. Consider the bigger picture
Adaptable people are good at stepping back out of the details to consider the broader context for a situation. Yes, it was a bummer to miss Easter dinner on Sunday, but the long term benefit of being vaccinated far outweighs the short term discomfort and disappointment.
2. Remove perceived constraints
Adaptable people are good at approaching problems creatively and not assuming constraints are fixed. Had we tried to solve the problem by asking, “how do we manage to get dinner ready today?”, we might have come up with one set of options. But, by questioning how critical it was to be wedded to that day, it opened up options to both have the meal we wanted for everyone and feel good enough to enjoy it.
3. See change as opportunity
Adaptable people refuse to say “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it” and see change as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. Admittedly, I have eaten Easter dinner on Sunday for my entire life. But, what I love most is the food and the people. Experimenting with the Tuesday version enabled us to maintain what we valued. I don’t think we loved Easter Dinner on Tuesday so much that this new version will stick, but it was an opportunity to try.
This year is giving us many opportunities to develop our adaptability superpowers. So what’s one perceived constraint at work or at home that you should question? What change to how you’ve always done things could be an opportunity for great growth for you or your organization? When do you get annoyed by the day to day details and is it time to step back and remind yourself of the bigger picture?
And last, but not least, what celebration should you consider having on a Tuesday?