Several months ago I read athletic training advice on how to adapt in instances when, after months or years of training and preparation, something goes wrong. The same philosophy can be extended to one’s work life, travel disruptions or personal finances – especially for those of you carrying student loans or business debt. Events that we haven’t planned on interfere with our grand scheme. Here’s our take on how to move forward after a bump in the road or even a major calamity. An example is included in the quotes.


Accept things as they are. Sure, you can hope and wish to be transported to a place where it’s all lollipops and rainbows. But you know deep down that “it happened.” First things first – accept that it did happen. You don’t have to like it.  A primary goal or result may no longer be attainable but take a step back for a broader view and accept how and where you are in the present.

Since emotions often override rational thinking, be aware your judgment may be clouded. When time allows, a private pillow-tantrum can help release the emotions of the situation. By acknowledging “it happened”, one can move past the event.

Accept: “Our reserved hotel room was not held. We cannot sleep here.”


Take a rapid triage assessment of what is going on. Determine exactly what is “off”. This step is easy. If you just had your identity stolen, then you have finances at risk. If you are frustrated because of increased debt, then you are simply frustrated. Don’t worry about the details of the issue or how to resolve it; just diagnose the problem. Keep this step simple and direct. “I have too much debt,” “I need to eat,” or “I am frustrated” (or a combination of these) are all acceptable. It is also fine to identify more than one problem, but avoid any analysis or planning before clearly identifying the problem. You’ll want to diagnose accurately or you may end up creating solutions to the wrong problems.

Diagnose: “We need to find a place to sleep.”


Analyze the situation by considering a number of questions related to your diagnosis. How much debt? How much time do you have before restaurants close? What tools or options are available? Create a list, because these are the keys you will use. The results of the next step depends on the analysis you do in this one!

Analyze: “How many lodging options are available nearby?  How helpful is the front desk at this hotel?  Do we have access to transportation?  Do we have funds for a different hotel room?”


You have accepted the event, diagnosed what is wrong, and analyzed your situation. Now it’s time to actually determine what to do. Planning is by far the most complicated step. Strike a balance between paralysis and off-the-cuff alternatives.  Your plan incorporates your earlier analysis of the situation and the assets, devices and means available to you. It takes the wheres and whats and weaves them into concrete steps you can take. Depending on your case, a simple plan might be to call another hotel, refinance your home mortgage or call your family. If debt is your situation, you can share the results of your diagnosis and analysis with your staff or financial planner, and they can help you formulate a new plan. One step at a time.

Plan: “We’ll get a recommendation for another hotel from the front desk here. We’ll call that hotel for a room. We’ll repeat until we have found an acceptable room for the night.”


Finally you have to take action. The problem will not disappear on its own. You must do something deliberate to fix them. Put your plan into action. Take action.

Take action: “I’m calling Hotel XYZ. Hotel XYZ has a room and I’ve reserved a room letting them know we’ll arrive in 15 minutes.”

The A-D-A-P-T strategy helps us move through business decisions, personal situations and interpersonal discussions. Instead of reacting, or over-reacting, we proceed through these steps to always take the best option available to us at the moment. No, it’s not always the best option we can imagine but it is always the best next step.

Try it!

A-D-A-P-Ting can help you move through anything from spilled coffee to how to refocus on a legislative setback. I’ve often heard Val recount days at the legislature and how he and his colleagues followed an analogous process. It’s a necessary skill for passing legislation but one that can be used by anyone.

Like the chameleon changes its colors, you too can adapt!



5 Steps to ADAPT

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