Published on April 13, 2021

What Are Adaptability Skills And How To Upgrade Yours

What Are Adaptability Skills And How To Upgrade Yours

There is one secret to success that no one talks about by name—it’s the power of adaptability. And when you find how to upgrade yours, there your greatness lies. So, what are adaptability skills, and how do you upgrade yours?

Adaptability is a reflection of your confidence, presence, and willingness to grow and endure. As Natalie Fratto, a venture capitalist, presented in her TED Talk, “I look for signs of one specific trait. Not IQ. Not EQ. It’s adaptability.” You can check out her full TED talk in the video below.

Depending on who you ask, adaptability has a variety of meanings. Google defines it as “the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions.” Natalie Fratto says it’s “how well a person reacts to the inevitability of change and lots of it.” Then, you can include the simple flexibility and versatility, the duo which shapes adaptability.

What if change could help you succeed in life? What if the one constant could lead to the one skill that sets you apart from the crowd?

Keep in mind that adaptability is not something you have to like or enjoy. It’s the ability to perform and produce from a multi-faceted perspective, giving you an expansive position on a platform you continue to create.

What Are Adaptability Skills?

The challenge lies within the scope of habitual skills. The more skills that are rote, the less thinking that is involved. Yet, this can lead to complacency and a lack of high performance. Interject adaptability and see your opportunities explode in your life.


Adaptability skills, as defined by Indeed, is an overarching category that includes, but is not limited to:[1]

  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Creative and strategic thinking skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Organizational skills

These skills help you to customize your response and actions to what is necessary to impact the life and work you love.

The Appreciation

All of these skills are essential life skills that set you up for success. And the good news is, you can acquire them in your everyday life. Adapting to change and incorporating the ideas effectively in your responsibilities opens the doors of possibilities in accepting new challenges.

Even though change is a constant, it doesn’t make it any easier to apply. For many of us, there is a resistance to change. When change is requested, most people run and hide. It’s easier to do what you know than learn what you don’t.

Why work harder when life can be easier? Because adaptability presents the simplicity of what makes change a not-so-invasive hurdle. If you make space for flexibility and versatility, it all leads to adaptability.


Flexibility is the ability to bend easily without breaking and the willingness to change or compromise. This is where you can adjust quickly and change your focus in a situation or project. If you can be flexible in your comings and goings, your calendar, and in your every day, your skills will exceed other’s expectations merely for the fact of your adaptability, being able to respond with specificity to any situation or project.



Versatility is the ability to adapt to many different functions or activities. This is best described from the aspect of one who wears many hats. You might be experienced in the kitchen and cook incredible foods, not because you’re a great chef but because you can follow detailed instructions. Take this trait and use it to execute a marketing plan for a business.

Flexibility and versatility are the dynamic duos of adaptability.

Here is where success is redeemed with the hard work of simply adopting change as a positive reflection of adaptability.

The Acquisition

Below are seven ways to develop and advance your adaptability skills. Be sure to expand your knowledge and experiment within your own strengths and weaknesses.

1. Connection Is King

There is more than you in the world. So, be responsive to those around you. If you do not know someone, then make an introduction. Use questions to get to know that person. As you learn about the needs, wants, and interests, you will be able to make a connection that will allow you to serve with genuine actions.

2. Escape Your Comfort Zone

If you are comfortable, you are living within your zone of comfort. Go beyond the feelings of knowing and experience the freedom of growth by expanding your reach. What you see is not always what you get. To stand out, you have to be willing to stand apart. Therefore, escape your comfort zone, all the while inspiring yourself to serve others.


3. Cheers to the Cup Half-Full

When you look at a glass of liquid, how do you see it? Half-full or half-empty? Most people tend to lean toward the negative, half-empty. But when you choose to see the cup half-full, that’s where the story changes. It’s the blend of the good and the bad with a specific outlook to the positive. Don’t limit yourself to what you know. Stretch your perspective in seeing what’s possible.

4. Think Outside the Box

Innovation starts in the mind. So, get out of your own way and think bigger and broader. You can always fine-tune the focus. Broaden your horizons by trying something new and different. Outstretch the common and embrace the uncommon. There you will discover a limitless mindset to grow your adaptability.

5. Simulate What’s Possible, Not Probable

Positivity goes a long way when you are looking to make a change. Where there is hope, change is more easily accepted. Be a product of positivity and simulate what’s possible. Even if it doesn’t make sense after giving it further thought, looking at the situation or circumstance with a positive twist allows you to continually adapt what’s possible and not limit you to what’s not.

6. Infuse a Growth Mindset

Every day can benefit from a growth mindset. But that requires the removal of seeing only what you know—a fixed mindset. Step away from what is holding you back and lean into what will stretch your perspective. Having a growth mindset pushes you to examine the situation or project from all different angles. It’s not just what you know but what you can imagine beyond what you see.

7. Unlearn to Relearn

One of the most challenging aspects of growing as an individual is unlearning to relearn. And this is key to developing adaptability skills. It takes much effort to be willing to adjust previous actions so you can flex your versatility muscles. Further, it unlocks the potential for greater growth both personally and professionally.

Remember, there are always two sides to every coin. This means there is more than one way to do something. Being too rooted and attached to your actions and responsibilities limits your production. In all you do, make something new. Life is not about habits but embracing the change that enacts adaptability to make every day great.


The Application

“One step at a time leads to miles of greatness.”—Kristianne Wargo

These miles of greatness come with intention.

Take a stone and just not any stone, but a smooth, sleek stone with perfectly rounded edges that has been through some seasons. Stones are not created smooth. They are tumbled, tossed, and twisted about in the environment. This causes the stone to appear buffed and polished due to its adaptation to what’s around it.

You, too, can be the stone that changes and embraces the power of adaptability. Take the good with the bad and learn how to be flexible and versatile to rise to the top. Leave the old behind and celebrate the new. Change is a blessing in disguise. Don’t treat it as a disease. Embrace it by expanding your adaptability skills. It’s here in the ocean of change that you will rise from what was to what will be.

Adaptability is found in your presence. Getting too far ahead leaves behind what really counts in your every day. Trying to finagle what works to your benefit and strength cancels out what truly matters.

Be present in the ebbs and flows of life. The journey may be windy, but by upgrading your adaptability skills, detours won’t be a surprise but a welcome expectation. Change becomes simpler because you have become adaptable.


Do what matters with a touch of presence and adaptability. Adaptability promotes freedom in your thoughts and mind, making way to diversify your actions in the life and work you love.

More About Adaptability Skills

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Kristianne Wargo

Lifestyle Strategist, Executive Coach, Podcaster, Writer, Speaker and Best-Selling Author who walks with the everyday woman in her every day to live, love, and impact.

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Published on November 29, 2021

Why the 10-80-10 Rule Is Key To Achieving Success

Why the 10-80-10 Rule Is Key To Achieving Success

The 10-80-10 rule is an extension of the Pareto principle that says 80% of productivity/wealth is generated/owned by 20% of the population.[1] This ratio is often observable in various statistics and studies.

The 10-80-10 rule takes this principle and applies it more specifically to human behavior. It is also malleable, enabling people to move between categories. If we apply it to a company (just as an example), in essence, the 10-80-10 rule looks like this:

  • 10% Highly Productive Elite – This is the core of your business. These people will work all the hours that God sends for your company, leaving no stone unturned and generating the maximum possible productivity/revenue for you that they can.
  • 80% Productive – These lovely folks make up the majority of your business and will work 9-5, getting their tasks done and not making much of a fuss about it. They are less likely to offer innovation, but they are reliable, trustworthy, and dutiful.
  • 10% Unproductive and Defiant – These people are outliers and mercifully low in number, but they create work. They are difficult, unwilling to work hard, and generally take more from your company than they give.

This can also be applied in other areas of life. Morality is another example, with the vast majority (80%) of us being law-abiding citizens who may bend the rules occasionally, 10% being unscrupulously good, and 10% being out-and-out criminals.

Who Came Up With the 10-80-10 Rule?

As touched on earlier, the 10-80-10 rule is an off-shoot of the Pareto Principle, first conceived of in the early twentieth century by Italian civil engineer turned economist Wilfredo Pareto. He simply observed that 80% of the property in Italy, at that time, was owned by 20% of the population. Wealth distribution, according to Pareto, was divided 20/80 across all sections of society. The country, age, gender, or industry didn’t matter. This principle still applied.

Later on in the 1940s, Joseph M. Juran (himself an engineer and management consultant) applied the Pareto Principle to human behavior with the aim of improving quality control, positing that 80% of the success on any one project would be due to the efforts of 20% of the team working on it.

Since then, various researchers and theorists have expanded the Pareto principle into the 10-80-10 rule—observing that 10% are true leaders, 80% seek guidance from others, and 10% wilfully act in a counter-productive manner.[2]


How to Apply the 10-80-10 Rule to Management to Be More Successful

Well, let’s stay with the team/workforce model for now: if you want to improve productivity in your company, where should your focus be? All too often, “the squeaky wheels get the grease.” That is to say, we tend to try and fix what’s most broken in our organization (namely the bottom 10%) before we move on to the less broken.

When you realize, though, that you’re pouring resources into just 10% of your labor force, it starts to look very inefficient. Moreover, that 10% is comprised of folks who are highly unlikely to change their tune (statistically anyway). You need to focus on the 80%. That’s where you’ll have the most impact and where you’ll create the biggest uplift in productivity. The 80% aren’t (of course) completely equal. Some will sit closer to either of the 10% range, but this means that you should be able to increase the size of your top 10% to be more like 20 or 30%.

How Much of a Difference Would That Make?

Now, before you slam your laptop shut, haul off, and start brainstorming ideas about team-building exercises and corporate days out, it is first very important to understand the metric by which you measure productivity. Numbers on a spreadsheet or letters next to a person’s name only paint part of the picture.

What you value in your company is unique to you. As I’m constantly saying to entrepreneurs and business owners that I coach, you have to be specific with what you are asking of your team, your customers, and the universe at large. Ask a vague question and you’ll get a vague answer.

So, do the work of understanding exactly what is working for you and what isn’t. Simply saying that you want revenue to increase is not enough. By how much? In what areas? Who will we add value to increase their spending with us? Where and whom should we target for new growth?

Who Does This Desired Increase in Productivity Help You Become and Who Does It Serve?

Armed with this, you will have much more clarity to take to your team and with which to start formulating a plan of action. You can look at what would incentivize those in the 80% who just need a slight nudge. That’s where minimum effort will yield maximum results! So, start there.


A 2014 Gallup poll found that a third of the US workforce felt unmotivated in their jobs, with the highest levels of motivation found among managers.[3] This tells us two things:

  • Firstly, the unmotivated third is comprised partly of those in the 80% camp, but the entirety of the unmotivated 10% is in there, too. If you take them out (because they are those people), the remainder isn’t as many people and they are in a group that still wants to work and get on.
  • Secondly, those in a position of management (i.e. those who feel as though they can effect change in the company) tend to be the most motivated.

Now, let’s not confuse motivation with productivity. You can be as motivated as you like, but without proper strategy or direction, you’ll just be a hammer in search of a nail. Nevertheless, those in management who felt the most motivated to be productive are worth interrogating.

Why Did They Feel More Motivated?

I would posit that the answer is very simple: they felt heard and that they could affect change. It’s a hugely important part of human psychology that we feel as though our ideas, thoughts, and feelings are heard by others. When we feel ignored, we feel unvalued. When we feel unvalued, we are (naturally) unmotivated.

This is not to say that you should make everyone a manager within your company. Your business might be a start-up or just a few people working out of your converted garage. The point is, make sure that they all feel heard. I guarantee you that—especially among the upper end of the 80%—you will see the greatest uptick in productivity if you simply listen to them. Make them feel as though they have a vested interest in growing your business, too.

If they can see the role that they play is important and understood by you, they will push themselves to go further, work harder, and achieve more. You have to put yourself in their shoes, which brings us on to the next point. . .

How to Use the 10-80-10 Rule to Improve Success

Okay, so far we’ve just looked at the 10-80-10 rule as it pertains to the success of groups. But how does it apply to us as individuals? What can we learn from it and use in our day-to-day lives?


You might be a sole trader or maybe a consultant—someone who does not have a team to rally and simply sells your services to others. In that instance, how does this work for you? Divide yourself up into the 10-80-10. Do it by tasks: what are you most efficient/gifted at, what are you good at, and what do you constantly put off doing?

Here’s an example. Say you’re a writer (where did I get this one from?), and you’re very successful. You are asked to write articles for lots of great, top publications like LifeHack, or maybe you’re writing a book and your screenplay just got picked up by Warner Brothers. Writing is your 10% elite. It’s where you offer the greatest value.

It’s probably not the actual writing so much as it’s the creativity, ideas, and talent that you can bring to bear in your writing. The actual writing—sitting down at your computer, tapping it out, proofreading, and catching spelling/grammar mistakes—that’s your 80%. Sure, you’re good at it. You are competent and get it done. But it’s not where you are at your most powerful, and you usually run out of steam at some point during the day.

Then, there’s your bottom 10%. That’s probably your operational tasks, such as your timekeeping, bookkeeping, invoicing, correspondence, tax return, etc.

Where Do I Get These Examples From?

So, where can you be most effective in taking action that will support you in accelerating your growth? Again, start with the 80%. Try finding ways to improve the writing experience for you. Maybe observe yourself on a typical day, and note when you do your best work. It might be right after your second coffee that you stay at your desk for longer and write with the greatest clarity. So, start structuring your day around that.

What has that cost you? Nothing! It was simply a case of reorganizing your day and bingo, you are doing more of your best work in less time than it took you before. Pretty soon, after you’ve tightened up your day so that you are of maximum productivity, you’ll find that you have more time and resources.


Once you are better resourced, having landed bigger and bigger jobs, you’ll be able to take care of that pesky bottom 10%. It could be that you eliminate it by outsourcing the work to someone else. Now that you earn more for less of your time, why not? Just take it out of the equation altogether.

Final Thoughts

The 10-80-10 rule is not about adding ridged structures or following strict rules per se. It’s simply a lens through which to view human behavior, including your own. The reason why it is (or could be) the key to your success is that it enables you to identify those small changes that you can make that will have the greatest impact and accelerate your growth the fastest.

If you categorize your labor and the labor of your employees in this way, you’ll be able to more easily identify where you can have maximum impact with minimum input. If you continue to work out from there, your success will snowball, and you’ll have the support in place to maintain it.

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