How adaptable are you?
Last week I traveled to Cape Town for a series of business meetings. On one of the days I finished early and decided to take in the unseasonably great winter weather and I found myself at a popular restaurant at the V&A Waterfront for their customary fish and chips. The waiter was a handsome man. He served my colleague and I with a broad smile and a charming accent throughout our time there, but it was his name, Yannick that really caught my attention. I’d heard that name before and it had belonged to a flamboyant French tennis player in the late 80’s.
As our lunch drew to a close, I asked Yannick if he spoke French. He beamed and told me it was his home language. Being curious, I then asked where he was from. He told me he had come to Cape Town from the DRC. At that point, he changed direction and asked if we would be interested in learning French as he was keen to start tutoring people. We told him we were from out of town, but that if we weren’t we would surely have considered his offer more seriously.
I then asked Yannick what brought him to Cape Town from the DRC. This charming, good-looking young man was working as a waiter and I couldn’t help but feel that his spirit craved more. His answer was poignant. He said, “I came to Cape Town full of dreams, but sometimes things don’t work out the way you think they will. So now I do what I can.” He had come to Cape Town after his studies with hopes of a better future than he saw for himself in the DRC, but when he arrived he quickly realised that for various reasons he could not find any work in his chosen field in Cape Town and as such he was doing whatever he could to earn a living, including waiting tables with pride and purpose.
Yannick’s honesty touched me deeply. As we paid our bill and left to continue our day, I wondered if I would be as adaptable in his situation or if I’d throw in the towel and go back to where I’d come from when things didn’t go the way I’d planned or hoped. And I wondered if I’d have his incredible attitude about it. Adaptability is a trait that we should all learn to foster. Some people think that the ability to change according to the needs of a situation shows weakness or a lack of conviction in one’s goals, but the reality of life is that if we fail to adapt, we fail to move forward.
In the days following my encounter with Yannick, I read a stack of articles on adaptability traits, wanting to understand more about this critical skill. Here’s what I found:
- Adaptable people are curious.
- Adaptable people know who they are and what they stand for.
- Adaptable people are open-minded.
- Adaptable people don’t blame others.
- Adaptable people see failure as an opportunity to learn.
- Adaptable people are resourceful and solution-oriented.
My conversation with Yannick may have been brief but it certainly impacted me. What I learned from him through his attitude and honesty will stay with me forever and the next time something isn’t exactly as I’d planned I’ll remember his words. How adaptable are you?
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