Adapt, Adjust or Avoid Situations


Adapt Adjust or Avoid

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” — Stephen Hawking

When you find yourself in a situation that isn’t working for you, analyze it.

You can use a simple frame for analysis: adapt, adjust or avoid.

This frame can help you improve your effectiveness for any situation.  For any situation that isn’t working, determine whether to adapt, adjust or avoid that situation.

When you analyze, also look for the patterns.  Chances are, you’ll find that you behave similarly in similar situations.  Once you know the pattern and what to look for, you can spot these situations faster and improve your effectiveness.

Adapting to the Situation

Can you change yourself to make the most of the situation you’re in?  Adapting to the situation, means changing yourself for the situation.  While flexibility is good, you need to be careful.  You can trade your less effective behaviors, but don’t adapt to the situation in a way that takes away your strengths.  You’d be better off finding a situation where you can play to your strengths.

Adjusting the Situation

Can you change the situation to play to your strengths?  Adjusting the situation, means changing the situation to suit you.  Sometimes this is the best option, particularly if you can set it up to play to your strength.  For example, when you take on a project, can you get the right people on board that compliment your abilities?

Avoiding the Situation

Can you avoid the situation all together?  Sometimes avoiding the situation is the best path.  Learn to spot the situations where you don’t do well.   This is my caution.  Because I turn any situation into a learning opportunity or challenge, I need to know when it’s low ROI (return on investment).  Life’s too short to spend energy in low ROI situations.

Self-Awareness is the Key

If you know your personal strengths and passions, this is your key to success.  You avoid adapting to situations that take away your strengths.  You learn to setup situations in a way that you succeed.  You learn the situations that you should avoid.

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  1. I feel like I’m in one of these at the moment. Busy adjusting and working towards avoiding. Fingers crossed that I can hang in there for another two months because that’s how long it will take to escape.

  2. Knowing your own strengths makes all the difference. I like your focus on avoiding an adaptation when it takes away your strengths. We have limited resources so it’s essential that we channel them in the right places. If our talents don’t fit a situation it’s best to change gears.

  3. These three served me very well lately. It helped me to stay out of troubles – “avoid”. It helped me to “change the world” a little bit – “adjust”, it helped me to stay alive …. – “adapt”

    Very good stuff – simple and practical.

  4. JD,

    I like this AAA approach! So simple and elegant. I’ll remember to ask myself next time I’m in a tricky situation which A I’ll adopt. Post is Stumbled!

  5. Hi J.D.

    Great tips on how to deal with unwanted situation that we sometime find ourselves in. The last part about ‘Self-Awareness’ is the Million dollar tip 🙂
    Thank you,
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  6. Hi JD

    Very interesting about adapting the situation to one’s strengths. (there is that word again). Not always adapting to the situation.

    I tend to avoid and that really is not always good – especially if it is going to come back.

    And patterns of situations and behaviour…there is always so much to remember!


  7. @ Louisa

    It sounds like you have a lot of self-awareness and that’s the key. It’s about knowing where you can flourish and where it’s just not worth the ROI.

    @ Jason

    Thank you. I have to say it’s been of my most helpful little insights that really changed how I analyzed things. It helped to really separate out into the thinking, feeling, doing along with the situational adapt, adjust, avoid. It seems so simple now.

    @ Gennaro

    You pointed out the key – we have limited resources. Just knowing that helps prioritize where to spend your time and focus.

    @ Alik

    Thank you. I find myself stepping into situations with both eyes open now. Before I would just plan on making the most of it, now I’m more selective about the situations I step into when I can be. Once I’m in them, now I’m more careful how I analyze them so I make my best moves.

    @ Daphne

    Thank you! It’s funny how just a little frame can really help organize and improve thinking.

    @ Giovanna

    I am a fan of self-awareness. A little awareness can go along way. I’ve been collecting a lot of frames for self-awareness and I’ll be sharing more down the line.

    @ Juliet

    You’re right, avoiding is not always good. I like to think of situations as tests and pick the ones where I need to grow, while playing to my strengths.

    One of my favorite quotes on problems is by John Maxwell, ““You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.”

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