The Art of Adaptability, Part 3: Embracing Unpredictability

View of Napflion Greece from old fortress and Karen Ann Bulluck at the fortress
Traveling is a great way to enhance your leadership skills, and one of the greatest lessons from travel is embracing unpredictability - another facet of adaptability.

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The Art of Adaptability, Part 3: Embracing Unpredictability

The journey to your dream role is paved with lessons of adaptation.

I’m back!!! I know it’s been a few weeks since I sent a newsletter, but I have been traveling. I always have good intentions about writing and posting while I’m on vacation, but it rarely happens. And that’s a good thing.

Because it’s more important to be present in my life than being a slave to social media algorithms or other people’s expectations. (More on this later.)

Being present allows me to soak up everything there is to see and hear and learn. It also helps me be adaptable.

Traveling is often an exercise in adaptability, and my recent trip to Greece and the Dalmatian Coast was no exception.

A few weeks ago, I talked about how accepting your circumstances without judgment is a key aspect of adaptability. Today, we’ll go one step further. When traveling, I’ve learned that embracing the unpredictability is a way to make the trip more enjoyable.

And that’s true with more than just travel.

On day two of our cruise through the Greek Islands we were scheduled to stop in Santorini. I was looking forward to seeing the picturesque island that is featured in so much artwork. However, the night before our visit the captain announced that due to high winds, it wouldn’t be safe for us to stop there.

Disappointed, my traveling companion and I lamented our bad luck for a bit but then began researching the alternative stop, a place called Napflion. While a very pretty little town situated on a large bay not far from Athens, Napflion was clearly not the stunningly beautiful Santorini that I had been looking forward to seeing.

The situation was clearly outside our control – and the captain’s too!

Adapt and embrace or be miserable.

Those were the choices.

Adapt or be miserable.  

That’s true with almost any situation where things are not going as we planned or would like.

It’s easy to choose to be miserable. I heard plenty of grumbling from other people on the ship about the change in plans. Some even chose to stay on board the ship rather than visit the substitute port.

As a leader, the worst thing that we can do is choose to sulk and demonstrate our disappointment in such a negative way. I know you know that, but how often do you see people do it anyway?

But does that mean we can’t acknowledge our feelings? Do we have to be perky and positive, even when things don’t go according to plan?

Not at all.

In fact, the expression of false positivity is as toxic as sulking. Others almost always sense when we are faking positivity, which ultimately leads to a breakdown in trust.

The key is finding the right balance of appropriately acknowledging disappointment, anger, or frustration without diving into total negativity.

I was disappointed not to be going to Santorini, and I acknowledged that verbally to myself and my travel companions.

But then I stopped. I didn’t dwell on that disappointment. I focused instead on what we would be seeing, where we would be going. We went ashore. We took the short bus ride to the nearby fortress to explore and see the fantastic views. (Yes, the pictures accompanying this article were taken there.)

It was a beautiful morning.

We walked around the fortress and then went back through the charming town. Wandering the narrow streets, doing a little shopping, and enjoying the abundant sunshine, I got my first taste of Greece. A good one!

And Santorini will still be there when I go back someday! Something to look forward to.

These travel lessons apply to your career too, no matter if your goal is to grow your leadership or something completely different.

The journey to your dream role is paved with adaptability. Each challenge, each unfamiliar scenario, each disappointment is an opportunity to stretch your wings and learn to fly to new heights.

Leaders who leave lasting legacies aren’t those who resist change, but those who embrace it with open arms and a willing heart.

Where do you need to embrace unpredictability and adapt? Where are you still allowing yourself to be miserable?

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