Do you adapt well to changing or uncomfortable circumstances? Really? Are you sure? I’m not convinced. It’s a skill that not everyone has. In fact, I would say that most people are pretty change averse. Personally I am not. I itch for change. My husband says that I like to change things and try the unfamiliar just for the sake of the experience, not because of any other reason.
On my trip one couple was truly unable to cope with difficult circumstances. They inconvenienced many people in the process of trying to get comfortable, and they felt entitled to do so. This was done under the guise of “taking care of myself first” and it was done without any regard to how it impacted anyone else. It was clear that they expected their little bubble of USA standard of living comfort to follow them regardless of where they were in the world.
First off – let me tell you a little bit about the cabin that my husband and I shared during the trip. It was one of the smallest berths on the boat. We were expecting a full sized bed in it. When we got there, we found two smaller than twin bed bunks that were at different heights with a wooden board between them. They were at different heights because the bunks were located directly over one of the two big diesel engines that powered the boat from island to island over night. By directly, I mean that there was a hatch that we could open and we could see the engine. When the wind wasn’t right, diesel exhaust fumes came in through our very small open windows when the engines were running. There was no a/c (expected) so the windows had to remain open. There was only enough floor space in the cabin proper for one of us to stand if the other wasn’t in the bathroom. The shower was a hand held and the process of using it involved sitting on the toilet. This was no problem for us. This was the trip of a lifetime and we found that the vibration of the diesel engine helped lull us to sleep after a long hard day. The beds were extremely comfortable as well – regardless of their size. The open window in the roof of our cabin gave us a view of some of the most spectacular starry skies I have ever seen. There was no light pollution to speak of and the sight was amazing. I am truly thankful for the experience we had, and I don’t think that it would have been anywhere near the same in a big boat with a big suite with a/c and the light pollution of a cruise ship.
Flash to their experience. They had one of the best and largest cabins on the boat. It was on the front of the boat, far from the diesel engine noise and vibration at the back. They had a long corridor in their cabin – they even had drawers. (yes! Drawers!! we had 3 small cabinets) They had a shower in a separate room (!!) from the toilet and sink. They had numerous large windows. They had a double bed! They also had the diesel generator sitting above their room. It ran from 6am – noon and from 4 – 9pm. Yes, that wasn’t great, but it wasn’t running at night. They only spent 2 nights in their room. The first night the diesel fumes were too bad. They complained and complained the next day until our poor guide traded beds with them. They didn’t trade rooms with him however, just beds. His room didn’t have a shower – he showered in the space with the rest of the crew. Unacceptable. Besides, it would have been too much work to pack up their belongings and move them to the other room. Because of this they would have the crew of the boat WAKE HIM UP so they could get their things in the morning. I guess they felt the customer always should get what they want. On the last night, they decided to sleep in their room because they needed to pack to get ready to leave the boat the next morning. That night we had the roughest open water crossing of the trip. My husband was still on deck around midnight that night and what he saw appalled him. The guide’s cabin was midship so it had less roll. The husband came out, complained of feeling sea sick and woke up the guide, kicking him out of the cabin so he and his wife could sleep there. Horrible. Absolutely horrible. What were these people thinking? Why was their sleep and experience so much more important than that of the person who guided us all week? I guess they had to take care of themselves.
The really sad part is that during the week the wife kept talking about how she was able to easily adapt to tough circumstances. HA! She didn’t adapt, she whined until someone got sick of listening to her and made their experience worse to end the complaining. During the week we kept pointing out that she was not adapting, and finally the last night I really let loose with both barrels. I still don’t think that she had a clue.
Exhibit this kind behavior at work and you will make a lot of enemies. The benefit of the team is more important than the benefit of you as an individual. You need to be able to positively adapt to difficult and extenuating circumstances without a lot of drama. If you believe this simple thing and live it, you will always have supporters in your camp.
Now I ask you this:
When new processes or other changes are rolled out at work what do you do? Do you pick them right up and make sure that they get implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible? Or do you roll your eyes and commiserate with your pals about how management just doesn’t get it and that this is another initiative that is bound to fail?
What do you do when you are given the opportunity for a skill stretching assignment? Do you jump right in and learn as much as you can? Or do you avoid the work – sticking to what you know best and remaining in your comfort zone?
Only the adaptable will survive. Make sure you are one of them.