How to be more adaptable

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a TED talk on how to be more adaptable…

How adaptable are you? The COVID pandemic has added extra weight to this question, as most of us struggle to adapt to different work and life conditions and where the word ‘normal’ has morphed into what we optimistically call ‘the new normal.’ 

Venture investor and writer Natalie Fratto (pictured above) addresses the topic of adaptability in a recent six-minute TED talk on the subject, “Three ways to measure your adaptability — and how to improve it.

The issue of how to be more adaptable is extremely important to freelance writers right now: with all the pandemic-related changes in the workplace, old jobs are likely to dry up. Successful writers need to be able to pivot quickly to new ones. How do you do that?

Fratto offers three pieces of advice:

First, consider where you already have some expertise. For example, imagine you’re a marketing writer. If you can also make yourself knowledgeable about podcasts, you can become the translator between these two related — but different — areas. As Fratto puts it: “Seek out opportunities to bridge existing gaps.”

Second, become a devil’s-advocate. This position will allow you and your clients to see things from a different side. Fratto says in the tech world, there’s a repeated motto, “I like leaders who have strong opinions, weakly held.” An important component of adaptability is being able to form a strong opinion but then release it when new information becomes available.

Third, keep a failure log. “It’s helpful to write down the times where you were wrong, changed your mind, or made mistakes,” Fratto says. Instead of forgetting about — or hiding — our mistakes, it’s far more valuable to learn from them and see them as positive steps in our journey.