Character Chats

What is Adaptability?

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social, emotional character program called True Character.

My name is Master H. I am the owner and head instructor here at the studio.

My background is in special education. I have two master’s degrees in education. One of them is in curriculum adaptations.

We have designed our program to meet the needs of every student who walks through the door — from age 3 to 83. Those just happen to be our youngest and oldest students.

As students walk through the door, we make sure that when we’re talking about words like adaptability they understand it at the younger age and they know how to utilize it in older ages.

Adaptabilty plays an important role

This month we are talking about adaptability.

Adaptability is the third month of our goal setting group of words.

In January, we talked about setting goals. How do we set a goal? What is a smart goal? What can we do to work towards achieving that goal?

In February, we talked about discipline. What does it take to get to the end result of our goal? How much discipline does it take? What do we want to do? What are we not going to do, because it’ll get in the way of that goal?

And this month, here in March, we are talking about adaptability, because as anybody knows, our best-laid plans sometimes change. Especially in the last couple of years with the pandemic, we’ve had to do a lot of adapting and a lot of changing and a lot of adjustments.

So in March, we’re going to talk about adaptability and how that plays a role in our discipline and in our goal setting.

Handling change

We define adaptability as the willingness and ability to change. We all have that willingness and ability to change.

Sometimes that change is something that we have no control over. For example, you’re getting ready for a birthday party and suddenly somebody has the flu, or a fever spikes, or you’re just not feeling the greatest and an illness is setting in.

When this happens, we are forced to make a change. We can no longer go to that birthday party. And yes, we may feel sad and upset and not happy about such a thing, but we need to adapt because we know we don’t want to make other people at the party sick.

There are other things that we can control. We can control how we respond to situations. We can adapt to new technologies that come our way. Whether it be a new smartphone or a new computer or a new car or whatever that new technology is, we can choose to invite it into our lives and adapt to it. It’s a choice that we make.

Different aspects of adaptability

As we’re going along, we are going to talk about adaptability from the standpoint of: who helps us learn? Who helps us grow?

Every year, our younger students and our high school students — and even our college students — encounter new teachers all the time. They encounter substitute teachers within the course of one school year.

And they encounter a new teacher every time they move up a grade, every time they level up.

So we are going to talk about adaptability from the standpoint of: who helps us learn?

We’re going to talk about why it is important to adapt, and how does that make us better and stronger people?

And we’re also going to talk about adaptability from the standpoint of when it is not necessarily a positive thing — when we are overly adaptable, when we bend over backward to make sure that things are easier on someone else and it winds up actually hurting ourselves.

We’re going to talk about adaptability from that standpoint because there is a balance to adaptability. Our willingness and our ability to change has to incorporate what our values are and what our thought processes are.

An example

Let’s take, for example, my own particular stubborn nature. Anyone who knows me knows that I am stubborn.

I am more than willing to grab every grocery bag out of the car and make one trip into the house with all of those grocery bags.

Could I leave one behind and adapt and change? Absolutely. But there are times that I’m also stubborn and I don’t want to take that extra trip. I’m tired, or I just want to have the whole process done, or whatever it may be.

It’s at that point that I need to be willing and able to change my thinking. Just take a moment, take a deep breath, leave the fragile items like the eggs behind in the car and carry them in on a second trip. That’s not a big deal.

I need to be willing and able to accept the help from other people in my house when they come out and grab a bag or two out of my hands, rather than saying, “I got this.”

Adapt to keep making progress

The ability to adapt helps us become better people, helps us learn, and helps us grow.

Let’s go back for a moment to when we were talking about goal setting in January. Let’s say your goal was to be able to do a higher kick, or your goal was to be able to do a bicep curl of 30 pounds.

Then you hit a plateau and you get stuck. You’re disciplined in your training and you’re working out all the time trying to make it so that you’re stronger with your bicep curl. But now you need to adapt in order to move beyond that plateau.

You need to adapt. You need to ask for help.

You need to find other ways to move past it and you need to work through whatever it is that has caused that plateau — being willing and able to make a change — so that you can still achieve your goals.

So, to summarize, as we go through the month of March we’re going to be talking about adaptability from all different lenses, both the positives and the negatives. Who helps us? How do we grow? What can we learn from those different situations?

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat.
-Master H

True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here.