StrengthsFinder Discussion: Adaptability

AdaptabilityJeremy: Yo Jenny!  Thursday marked our first book club discussion of “Now, Discover Your Strengths.”  We took those Strengthsfinder tests like three years ago and I’m excited to finally move forward with the learning.  One of the things we are going to be doing is picking a strength each week to discuss in depth.  The strength this week is Adaptability.  To spur on the discussion, here’s a brief description of adaptability:

You live in the moment. You don’t see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices that you make right now. And so you discover your future one choice at a time.

Source: http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/628/adaptability.aspx

How does adaptability materialize itself in your life?  Does it help you or hinder you in your current job?  What are your thoughts?

Jenny: Yo Jeremy! I’m SO happy we’ll be discussing strengths in this book club. I am excited to hear everyone’s view points on the various types. Adaptability is one of my strengths and I’m proud to have it on my list. Just look at how often I move from place to place and that should tell you something!

Work wise, adaptability allows me to adjust accordingly to each and every customer. It’s the “stepping in the customer’s shoes and totally get the picture” strength that allows those to communicate effectively and understand the situation, no matter how uncomfortable. You have to make choices pretty in the moment with customers and being able to stand on the ball and doing just that opens the doors to trust with them.

How about you? How does it materialize in your life and work?

Jeremy: It’s so fun to discuss this stuff isn’t it?  Opportunities to get to know each other and work better together really excite me.  I am definitely an adaptable person in most situations.  I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Bangladesh and Nigeria and in both cases had to channel my adaptability a ton.  In those instances, going with the flow means adventure and learning and makes it fun.

According to the book, it says two of the possible careers for adaptable people are customer service and journalism.  I guess that explains why I enjoy customer service and writing our blog!  Really though, I do think I’m at my best when I’m faced with a problem or challenge and in the moment finding a solution.  I have the ability to be extremely easy going in these situations and work with just about anyone under any conditions.  I definitely see that as a strength.

Now for my second question!  We are taught not to talk about weaknesses but I’m curious to know if you’ve ever viewed your adaptability as a weakness and how you feel about that.

 Jenny: It is so much fun to discuss this stuff and get to know everyone on our team so much better. Travel is such a difficult thing and if you can’t adapt to anything outside your normal comfort zone, especially in places like Bangladesh and Nigera, you’re going to have a hard time. It’s interesting, in most jobs I’ve had (except Starbucks and here), we only focused on weaknesses. Growing up, I was always taught to look at what needed improvement instead of what I was already doing well. Weaknesses became something I had to apologize for (maybe that’s why I say sorry so much?!). Adaptability’s “live in the moment” factor can often make one feel unsettled. You’re constantly jumping around, sometimes without focus, and not really giving any one thing the attention it needs. For example, I’ll multi-task the heck out of my day and sometimes, I never actually complete one project. I’ve had to learn to focus more, prioritize and find balance. Do you see adaptability as a weakness in your life? What are some features about this strength that you would want to improve on?

Jeremy: Jenny, I identify so much with what you said.  As an adaptable person I can definitely spin plates for a full day without really accomplishing anything.  I think one of the most difficult things for me is to go to meetings where there is lots of planning and goal setting.  I find myself checking out or saying “Let’s just jump through that hoop when we get there.”  I find that in certain settings that really stresses people out.  I think to overcome this, I have really learned to appreciate the Activators (read about that strength) in my life as well as people gifted in thinking strategically.  I’m learning to lean on them more and realizing how cool it is that I have strengths that complement them as well!

Anyway, any day is a great day when we’re talking strengths.  Let’s do this again soon!

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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