Be Adaptable

My son was three years old when I returned home from my second deployment. I remember mentally preparing myself for the range of possible reactions he might have when he would see me at the airport. Will he shout “Mommy!” and run up to me and give me a hug? Will he feel scared and hide behind Daddy’s leg? Will he look confused because he is not sure who I am?


Ultimately, he did not come running toward me when he saw me. I walked toward him and kneeled on the ground a few feet away, holding a balloon my local family had brought for me. After a few moments, he reached for the balloon string to help me “hold the balloon.” We simply had a moment where we held the balloon string together. That was what he was comfortable with in that moment.


After arriving home, he did not want me to sit on the living room furniture. It took me a minute to understand why. While I was deployed, Daddy had set up the ipad on the carpet in the living room, where I would be on video to talk with him and watch him play. He was used to seeing me THERE. So, I sat on that very spot on the carpet to talk with him and watch him play. After a few days, I was able to sneak back up on the couch again.


Often we think about the importance of adaptability with respect to approaching challenges or roadblocks. This experience served as a powerful reminder to also adapt to the person, often by meeting them where they are at. Be it as a parent, a leader, a coworker, a friend: keep a pulse on the people living and working around us. Life happens– people get sick, family members die, relationships end, work motivations change. Anticipating, recognizing, and adapting to both the person and the situation can make all the difference.


When is the last time you adapted by meeting someone where they are at?

As you can probably tell, this photo was taken after we had reconnected, but before I was allowed to sit on the furniture again.