Adaptability, flexibility and resilience

What do we mean by ‘adaptability, flexibility and resilience’?

Being adaptable means you are able or willing to change in order to suit different conditions. Being flexible means you can do this easily. If you are resilient then you’ll be able to withstand or recover quickly from unexpected or difficult conditions, adapting to (and often enjoying) change on a regular basis.

Watch this short video, where a range of employers, academics and current students describe what adaptability, flexibility and resilience means to them.

Breaking it down further, being adaptable, flexible and resilient requires a willingness to learn new methods, procedures, or techniques and to take on new tasks with energy – keeping an open mind and positive approach to change. You’ll need initiative & self-reliance perhaps planning on-the-go and improvising where necessary. Things may not always work out as you’d hoped, so you need to be able to bounce back from setbacks and learn from the experience in order to do things differently next time. Very often, you might need to multitask doing a number of tasks at once, being tolerant of time pressure and working well close to deadlines.

Why is being adaptable, flexible and resilient so important?

Change is constant, it is how ANY organisation thrives and survives, so they need people who can adapt to changing circumstances and environments, being resourceful and enterprising to embrace new ideas.

Most of us have to be adaptable, flexible and to some extent resilient in everyday life, whether that’s coping with attending an additional lecture or seminar at short notice when you have lots of deadlines coming up, bouncing back when your research doesn’t go to plan or changing social plans at the last minute.

In what ways are people adaptable, flexible and resilient?

In this video, employers, academics and students outline how they are adaptable, flexible and resilient, on a day to day basis.

How good am I at being adaptable, flexible and resilient?

Complete our quiz to rate your ability to be adaptable, flexible and resilient.

How can I develop my adaptability, flexibility and resilience?

You might need to start off improving your adaptability, flexibility and resilience by changing your mindset. If you don’t like change, try to embrace it more and find something positive to focus on. Concentrate on things that are under your control rather than out of your control.
Look for ways to challenge or stretch yourself. You might choose a module or course project that puts you out of your comfort zone academically or you could offer to take on more responsibility in your part-time job. Perhaps you could try out a new hobby or sport, or join a new society that will force you to work with people you’ve not worked with before.

Take a look at this short video for a few more suggestions to help you develop your ability to be adaptable, flexible and resilient.

Time to reflect

Make time to note your reflections on what adaptability, flexibility and resilience means to you. We encourage you to think about examples of where you have used these attributes and consider how you can develop them in future.

Find out more

We suggest the following resources if you wish to find out more:


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