adaptability is the key to success for any parent, entrepreneur or educator in the 21st century

Being a parent is the greatest job in the world but…

No one tells you just how much work it is.

It’s like a full-time job, only harder. You’re always on call and you have no vacation days whatsoever.

You can’t afford to get sick and when you do, you have no choice but to suck it up.

And yet, despite all the complaining, all the nagging and the lack of sleep, it is all worth it.

However, keeping your sanity is another issue entirely.

In the ten short years I’ve been a parent, I’ve learned that being a parent is no different from being a teacher or an entrepreneur.

Each day, you are met with numerous challenges that you can either rise up to or let stomp all over you.

And believe me, kids are masters when it comes to stomping.

For the teachers out there, it’s the students, the parents, and the school administration that do the stomping.

For the entrepreneurs, it’s the customers.

No matter what position you find yourself in today, you will find those people out there who are stomping on you in one form or another.

It does take its toll.

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear at least one client talk about problems in their life, in fact, it’s pretty much a daily thing.

If it’s not work, it’s money, their parents, their spouse or their boyfriend.

In the past week alone, I’ve heard three stories of woe from female clients who had their hearts broken. (so much so I’m considering writing a book…not kidding)

So if you feel you’re being stomped on, you’re not alone.

The thing is though, no matter how much money you make, how many friends you have, how much free time you create for yourself or any other number of things, you will find yourself being stomped on in one way or the other.

The stomping’s not going to go away, what we need to do is better manage it.

That’s where adaptability comes in.

Let me explain.

The other day I came home to find my son in tears and my wife not too happy.

It seems that my son had come to the table and unequivocally stated that he didn’t like the lamb my wife had so kindly made.

Typical family fiasco.

As I had just gotten home, I was in a good mood, so rather than a frontal assault, I decided to approach the whole thing from a different angle.

Now, a little background here. My son absolutely LOVES deep fried chicken wings. They’re his absolute favorite.

So…holding the bone in my hand, I said, “Buddy…you like chicken with the bone, right? Well, this is meat with the bone…could you just try a bit? I think you’ll like it.”

Wiping his tears, he tried to bite the bone, but I pulled it just out of his reach.

“Daddy…” was the response I got.

I forget exactly when, but I maybe let him have it after I had teased him twice.

Mission accomplished.

He happily ate the rest of his dinner, thoroughly enjoying the lamb and especially the bones.

Now, I came up with this on the fly, but the point is in business, at school or at home, you need to be able to adapt because what worked before might not work this time.

First off we have the world which is continually changing technology, which moves at light-speed and all sorts of different customers with their own personalities.

So we need to keep on our toes.

How do we achieve this? That’s easy.

Adaptability is all about being able to apply different ideas to different fields.

That’s why I’m a big believer in constantly learning, but not just from our area of expertise or enjoyment.

Here are just a few of the things I do to keep myself agile, ready to take on any challenge:

  • When talking to different people, listen to their experiences, the knowledge and the questions they ask.
  • Try different apps and Boardgames as the learning curve will challenge you.
  • Read novels and self-help books, as well as books on marketing, sales, relationships, time management, economics and history.
  • Don’t shy away from new projects, volunteer if you feel you’ll be able to grow in the process.
  • Keep a journal handy and capture ideas from movies, TV shows, events, friends, and life.

I have found that you never know when a skill is going to come in handy so learn as much as you can.

In the past 10 years, I’ve self-taught myself photography, magic, marketing, economics and success…all through DVDs, audio lectures and books.

I only wish I started sooner.

The only reason I got started was because I found myself in a difficult business situation that required me to study. How much pain would I have saved myself had I studied the books I have now BEFORE getting into that business?

One thing I’ve learned through my own experience and that of my clients and friends is that we so often find ourselves in trouble because we didn’t study.

Today all I do is study. I’m an avid student of life.

What I’ve found is that some of the principles of marketing can be applied to my parenting, and what I’ve learned about relationships can help my clients with their work.

It’s remarkable just how much stuff is transferable, despite how different fields may be.

Now, since I started with parenting, I suppose I should pass along some of the things I do to keep my son happy:

  • Silly dancing (I’m useless anyway, so it’s not hard for me to make people laugh)
  • Pretend I’m a commando (and using the song from Predator)
  • Playing card games (thank goodness for Google, my supply will never run out)
  • Showing him card tricks (have tons of DVDs to use)
  • Pretending I’m a shark (at the pool)
  • Surprising him with small gifts (last week was some nice orange juice being sold at a stall I walked past)
  • Answering the craziest things (these days my answer to why something happened is always aliens)
  • etc…

The same concept applies to my businesses and when I’m coaching.

While I keep the fundamental concepts in place, I know that each person is different, so there’s no guarantee what works for one person will work for another. I just keep at it.

Start with what has worked best, that has proven to work time and time again…but when those fail you need to think outside of the box.

What else could you try?

What haven’t you tried before?

What ideas could be brought in from other fields?

Today’s world is moving fast so adaptability is a key element not just for growth, but for survival.

In business, in the classroom or with your children, as in the jungle, adapt…or die.

Adrian Shepherd

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