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AdaptAbility
Cover of AdaptAbility
AdaptAbility
How to Survive Change You Didn't Ask For
by M.J. Ryan
Borrow Borrow

Learn the secrets to taking any change in stride.

"Change is hard," we say, and it is even harder when change is thrust upon us. In today's tough times, we may be forced to reinvent our career or downsize our lives; at any point in life, we may lose a love or a dream. Our first reaction to change we didn't ask for may be to rail against fate. But what if we could see past today's turmoil and spot the opportunities that lie within unasked-for change? That is the promise of AdaptAbility, bestselling author and executive coach M. J. Ryan's paradigm-shifting new book on not merely surviving but thriving when change is required.

Why is it so hard to accept change? Paradoxically, it is for the very reason that our brains usually work so well; we are designed to learn something and make it automatic. The problem is that when circumstances change, our "efficient" brains keep trying to do things the same old way. In AdaptAbility, Ryan provides strategies to retrain your brain and optimize your response to change, step by step: by first accepting the new reality, then expanding your options, and finally, taking effective action. She offers cutting-edge tools for becoming calmer, less fearful, and more flexible, creative, and resourceful in your thinking. Best of all, as your "adapt-ability" increases, so does your confidence that you will be able to face whatever life sends your way and find new ways to flourish.

M. J. Ryan, internationally recognized as a leading change expert, is one of the creators of the New York Times bestselling Random Acts of Kindness series and the author of This Year I Will . . . , The Happiness Makeover, The Power of Patience, Trusting Yourself, and Attitudes of Gratitude, among other books. A member of Professional Thinking Partners, she specializes in coaching individuals and teams around the world. She has appeared on the Today show and CNN, and is a contributing editor to Good Housekeeping and Health. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter. Visit her website at www.mj-ryan.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

Learn the secrets to taking any change in stride.

"Change is hard," we say, and it is even harder when change is thrust upon us. In today's tough times, we may be forced to reinvent our career or downsize our lives; at any point in life, we may lose a love or a dream. Our first reaction to change we didn't ask for may be to rail against fate. But what if we could see past today's turmoil and spot the opportunities that lie within unasked-for change? That is the promise of AdaptAbility, bestselling author and executive coach M. J. Ryan's paradigm-shifting new book on not merely surviving but thriving when change is required.

Why is it so hard to accept change? Paradoxically, it is for the very reason that our brains usually work so well; we are designed to learn something and make it automatic. The problem is that when circumstances change, our "efficient" brains keep trying to do things the same old way. In AdaptAbility, Ryan provides strategies to retrain your brain and optimize your response to change, step by step: by first accepting the new reality, then expanding your options, and finally, taking effective action. She offers cutting-edge tools for becoming calmer, less fearful, and more flexible, creative, and resourceful in your thinking. Best of all, as your "adapt-ability" increases, so does your confidence that you will be able to face whatever life sends your way and find new ways to flourish.

M. J. Ryan, internationally recognized as a leading change expert, is one of the creators of the New York Times bestselling Random Acts of Kindness series and the author of This Year I Will . . . , The Happiness Makeover, The Power of Patience, Trusting Yourself, and Attitudes of Gratitude, among other books. A member of Professional Thinking Partners, she specializes in coaching individuals and teams around the world. She has appeared on the Today show and CNN, and is a contributing editor to Good Housekeeping and Health. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter. Visit her website at www.mj-ryan.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter I: Welcome to "Permanent White Water"

    It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. --Charles Darwin

    These are challenging times. If you're reading this, chances are you're confronting some change you never asked for--perhaps a loss of job. Or some dream. Maybe you have to learn to work in new ways or find a new place to live. I'm sorry if it's difficult. I'm hoping that within these pages you'll find the support and the practices you need to successfully ride the wave of this change, whatever it may be.

    Take comfort that you're not alone. In my work as a "thinking partner," I spend a lot of time speaking to people in all walks of life, from the CEO of a joint venture in Saudi Arabia to a stay-at-home mom who needs to enter the workforce. From where I sit, whether they are searching for a job, looking for funding for a startup, trying to stay relevant at age sixty in a large corporation, dealing with lost savings, coping with a big new job that has one hundred direct reports, struggling to get donations for a nonprofit, or fearing losing their home due to unemployment, people of all ages and walks of life are scrambling to deal with vast changes happening today in every part of the world.

    Take the publishing industry, where I've spent thirty years, first as an editor of a weekly newspaper, then as an editor of monthly magazines, a book publisher, and now, for the past seven years, an author. None of the companies I worked for are still in existence. Neither are the distributors. One of my dear friends, a top writer at the Washington Post, just took a buyout because the newspaper can't afford to pay top talent--even the most prestigious papers are drowning in red ink. How we create, distribute, market, and promote media products is completely different from even a few years ago. Where it is all heading we truly have no idea. Phil Bronstein, former publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle, declared recently, "Anybody who professes to be able to tell you what things will be like in ten years is on some kind of drug."

    And that's only one corner of the evolving big picture. In 2006, creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson, speaking at the TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) stated, "We have no idea of what's going to happen in the future. No one has a clue about what the world will be like in even five years."

    The only thing any of us can know for certain is that life will continue to change at a rapid pace because the world has gotten more complex and interdependent. Organizational consultant Peter Vail calls this "permanent whitewater," referring to a time of ongoing uncertainty and turbulence. We can't see exactly where these changes are headed or where the submerged rocks are, yet when we're tossed out of the boat, we want to make sure to swim, not sink. Experienced rafters know they're going to get dumped out at some point. The difference between them and the rest of us is that they're prepared to get bounced out and to recover swiftly. They expect the whitewater. And so should we.

    Have you ever encountered that "life stress" list that rates changes such as moving, death of a spouse, getting married, etc.? The folks who created that list in the 'sixties estimate that life is 44 percent more stressful now than it was fifty years ago, and they came up with that estimate--I have no idea how--before the 2008 global meltdown. I'm not sure we even want to know the new number!

    We find ourselves in uncharted waters. How do you cope with the falloff in business of your tiling company due to the implosion of the housing industry, as an acquaintance was telling me about yesterday? Or...

Reviews-
  • Nell Merlino, leader of Make Mine a Million $ Business and author of Stepping Out of Line "You are always more resilient than you think. In her motivational and optimistic book, M. J. Ryan shows you how to face the unexpected and use what you've learned to be happier in life, in love and at work."
  • Ellyn Spragins, author of What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self "The change you don't ask for has a way of smacking you between the eyes. M. J. Ryan's AdaptAbility teaches us how we can get through the pain more quickly and extract greater meaning from the nonnegotiable events of life."
  • Laura Berman Fortgang, author of Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction "If you're struggling and think that one more book can't possibly make a difference, think again. M. J. Ryan has the rare gift of breaking things down into clear pieces that can be tackled."
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How to Survive Change You Didn't Ask For
M.J. Ryan
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