4 tips for becoming more Adaptable (Successful)


“No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” – Helmuth Graf von Moltke, Prussian general 

“Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth.” Mike Tyson, heavyweight champion

Early in my real estate development career, I valued information and planning above all else. I was so afraid of failure that I wouldn’t move forward unless I understood all the risks, anticipated all the possibilities and developed a bulletproof execution strategy. When a project met a roadblock I had not planned for, I assumed I had failed to adequately prepare and that a more-seasoned developer (or smarter person) would have mitigated the hurdle in advance. Many times I questioned whether I was really cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Thankfully, good mentors offered me encouragement and advice which I now pass on to you. I hope it helps you to see that change is not only inevitable but often results in a better outcome. Their advice boils down to one word: adaptability.

In my opinion, adaptability is the single biggest determinant of success. Yes, we must invest time and energy to understand our market, product, opportunities and challenges in creating a successful business plan. That is all knowledge, and knowledge is totally necessary for success. But the application of that knowledge is what creates value. The application of knowledge to real-life situations and markets requires adaptability, and over time adaptability is far more useful than intelligence.

Some business leaders resist changing direction. I find that entrepreneurs especially have a hard time seeing beyond their beloved idea, and so they can become curiously self-limiting. But changing your business plan is not the same as failing. Sticking with a failing business plan, however, is.

I get it — so much time and energy is spent researching, writing, creating and polishing a business or project plan that it’s more than tempting to treat the plan as if God Himself chiseled it in stone. He didn’t. The process of writing the plan has given you the knowledge and insight that few other people have about your business. But without adaptability, that knowledge will prove virtually useless.

Here are a few tips for becoming an adaptable, successful person:

  1. Fail fast. If your plan is going to fail, it’s better to figure that out as quickly as possible. Moving down the wrong track only takes you further from your destination.
  2. Be committed to the ends and not the means. Use your first business plan to come up with a better one. Commit to solving a problem and creating a positive outcome — not to forcing a certain process to work. Many entrepreneurs fail at this step. They fall in love with their process instead of defining the outcome they wish to create. When you commit to an end and not the means, it forces you to consider different ways of bringing it about.
  3. Keep your grit. There’s only one you, with your experience, desires, perspective, creativity and resources. Don’t give up on your chance to make a difference, to create something new, to change your corner of the world. Look around you — everything you see started as an idea and is only here because someone had the grit to carry on. Plan, refine, learn, adapt and fail — but don’t quit.
  4. Avoid skeptics. Skeptical people don’t offer good counsel. Surround yourself instead with people who want you to succeed even if they haven’t caught your vision yet. It will make a world of difference in the atmosphere around you, encouraging creative thinking and hopeful imagination.

I have never had a project go exactly as planned. But adaptability keeps them from going into a ditch and instead leads us down a different road. Whether starting a new company, development project, product or role, value knowledge but insist on adaptability. Plans are great — but plans always change.



Moltke https://www.amazon.com/Moltke-Art-War-Selected-Writings/dp/0891415750

Tyson http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-11-09/sports/sfl-mike-tyson-explains-one-of-his-most-famous-quotes-20121109_1_mike-tyson-undisputed-truth-famous-quotes

Business plan https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247575

Fail fast http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/fail-fast

Grit https://www.amazon.com/Grit-Passion-Perseverance-Angela-Duckworth/dp/1501111108

Adaptability http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/adaptability.html and https://www.amazon.com/Adaptability-Art-Winning-Age-Uncertainty-ebook/dp/B007OTNOH6