Why Being Adaptable Matters
We’re not there yet—and we probably won’t be for a few more weeks—but after nearly two months of anxiety and uncertainty, we’re starting to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
Who knew Netflix and takeout would get so old so quick?
As we inch our way to normalcy (and much-needed healing), it’s easy to think the only thing we’ve accomplished is survival. In a crisis like this COVID-19 global pandemic, sometimes that’s all you can hope for.
But I think we—the SHPE Familia—have done much more than that. We haven’t just survived; we’ve adapted in ways that will set the course for our future.
Three weeks ago, we hosted our first-ever virtual career fair, attracting more than 1600 registrants and 900 participants from across the country—members and non-members alike. We launched Espresso Shots, a series of short videos designed to help members adjust to this new work-from-home reality. We’ve dedicated more resources to our monthly latinXfactor webinars. We’ve also launched two new online learning programs for professionals: Propel and CyberTech Trek. We opened up the Mercado; started a relief fund for SHPE student members; hosted a town hall with all regional leaders; finalized our 2019 Annual Report; and much more.
If you told me in early March that that we would accomplish all of this in a few weeks, on top of virtualizing our national team’s operations, I would’ve had my doubts. But my team has been absolutely phenomenal. We didn’t let the situation dictate our response. Instead, we got focused, nimble, and feisty. We’ve identified new ways to continue to engage our members; explored new streams of revenue; and sparked ideas for all kinds of exciting initiatives.
In short, we adapted. Not by changing who we are, but by embracing the very values that have defined SHPE for nearly 50 years: Resiliency, Service, Education, and Familia.
Taken as a whole, these values dovetail perfectly with the concept of “adaptive leadership”—something I’ve been reading all about these days. At its core, adaptive leadership is about mobilizing people to take on tough challenges, ones where the solution isn’t always clear and obvious. It’s about embracing more collaborative strategies; actively listening to one’s team and community; and fostering the conditions necessary to address those challenges (aka “opportunities”) in a focused, thoughtful way. As an organization, SHPE has exemplified all these traits to a T—and I for one couldn’t be prouder.
But here’s the thing: Whether you realize it or not, *you’ve* adapted, too. Maybe you’re one of the millions of U.S. college students who’ve had to transition to remote learning. Maybe you were forced to balance working from home and homeschooling your kids. Whatever your circumstances, chances are you’ve had to try something new, to evolve in ways you never expected. Whether you realize it or not, that adaptability—that resiliency—has made you stronger.
Truth is, you don’t need a c-suite title to practice adaptive leadership. If your adaptability helps those around you—your family, your colleagues, your project team, your community—*that’s* leadership. If your willingness to learn new things makes it easier for others to adapt, *that’s* leadership. Even if the only person being affected is you, that’s still showing leadership. Because whether you realize it or not, the skills you’re learning and honing now are going to serve you—and others—well after things return to normal.
For all the uncertainty and anxiety this crisis has caused, it’s also given us a chance to slow down, take stock and reflect—as individuals, as employees, and as members of our communities. In that reflection are the seeds of adaptability. But like any crop, we must be willing to use the tools we have to cultivate it, to help it grow and reach its full potential.
For SHPE, being adaptive means making sure we’re giving our members those tools. Our goal is to create and provide resources that will be relevant and useful not just now, but for years to come.
Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
You are adapting, no doubt, and sowing the seeds of that change. Now is the time to begin to nurture them. To maximize and leverage the skills you’ve learned to give these seeds a chance to not just survive and grow, but thrive. To create the kind of harvest and bounty that will make you strong and will sustain you—and your community—for a lifetime.
Raquel Tamez, SHPE CEO