The one thing constant about life is change. Just when we think we’ve figured out how to make life work, often we are thrown an opportunity to grow in a different direction. It’s our ability to adapt that makes the difference between a life of frustration or excitement.
Nature is our best example of adaptability. Dogs know when to shed their excess fur without someone telling them to do so. Birds know when to fly south for the winter. Squirrels know when to gather and store nuts. If the cold weather comes early one year, Nature adapts without thinking about it.
Yet we as humans sometimes make adaptability more difficult than it needs to be. We hang onto our ideas of how things “should” be, and are reluctant to embrace the change that’s needed to grow and succeed. Rather than flying south, we would argue with Mother Nature and tell her why it shouldn’t be getting this cold so soon.
While traveling last week we noticed signs of adaptability in unexpected places. If you’ve traveled within the last few years you’re probably familiar with the TSA signs in the US airports, located at the security lines. For those who may be unfamiliar or haven’t flown in a while, TSA divides the lines of people waiting to pass through the security screening by their level of travel expertise.
In other words, you’ll find a “Expert Traveler” line for those who travel often and can move through the line more quickly, or a “Casual Traveler” or “Family Traveler” for those that might not understand the security procedures or require a bit more time to pass through the line.
We travel quite a bit and usually use the faster “Expert Traveler” line. At the entrance to each line there is an icon on a sign, similar to a traffic sign. The usual symbol for “Expert Traveler” is that of a person holding a briefcase.
However on this trip to the islands, we were struck by the “Expert Traveler” icon in the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport, which depicts a babe on a surfboard! Not only did TSA have an unexpected sense of humor, but also they showed that they too can adapt to their surroundings.
We paid more attention to the signs and noticed that in Nashville, TN, home of country music, the casual traveler brought his guitar.
I’m so accustomed to bringing my virtual briefcase to most situations in life, and yet, here I was being invited to bring a surfboard or a guitar!
Although I’m sure it wasn’t TSA’s intent, it really made me think of how we usually approach a situation in the same way- with our virtual briefcase in life. But, what if we took our surfboard or our guitar today instead? By just looking at the situation in a different way, we’re already closer to the solution. That’s adaptability!
Next time we’re faced with a problem or a difficult situation, instead of looking at life and our “problems” with our briefcase in our hand, I invite you to be adaptable enough to bring your virtual surfboard or guitar instead.
By looking at things in a different way, we’re often able to solve problems that have remained stagnant before. Rarely do we solve problems with the same mindset that created them in the first place.
Ask yourself, “How would the person on the sign adapt to this situation? What gift would they see that the one with the briefcase just might miss?” You just might be surprised at your answer.
Come on, if TSA can adapt then anything is possible for you too. ☺
p.s. Sorry for the poor photo quality but TSA doesn’t have a sense of humor about us taking photos in the security area.