Adapting Your Natural Behavioral Style or… MacGyver Wasn’t Real

When it comes to understanding your DISC, many people falsely assume that regardless of their natural behavioral style, they can do all sorts of tasks by simply adapting their behavior.

If only this actually worked. The principle of “adaptation” in the DISC theory does exist, but it’s not natural. It is just that … adapting what comes naturally to you. The issue with adaptation is that it only works for a very short period of time.

It can work if you’re adapting your natural behavioral style to have a short conversation with someone else, even though your natural style may be a poor fit (e.g., a sales call). It can work for minor tasks, for a minimal amount of time. It doesn’t work, however, for anything of significance that occurs with any regularity or frequency, or for something extremely important to your success. Why? Because while performing tasks in an adapted manner you are nowhere near as proficient.

Adapting your natural behavior style can only be done for brief periods.

Imagine you’re hiring a stock person for your store. In order to be able to reach the top shelf the ideal employee should be 6 feet tall. You interview one candidate who is only 5’9”, but if he stands on his toes he can still reach the top shelf. “That will work,” you think, and you hire him.

Adapting your natural behavioral style is just like this. While that stock person is standing on his toes to reach the top shelf, he’s not as stable, not as comfortable and likely to fatigue quickly because it takes a lot more energy to do. When you adapt your behavior, you’re not as stable (good), more uncomfortable (unnatural) and you fatigue (burn out) much more quickly.

Adapting is fine for the occasional weekly meeting or infrequent situation. It is not a substitute for true natural talent or core job requirements that occur all day every honking day.

 “We are constantly invited to be who we are. So accept these invitations instead of rejecting them.” – Henry David Thoreau

It’s OK to adapt minor things some of the time, just not major things most of the time.

In the mid-1980s, there was a television series in the United States called MacGyver. In the show, actor Richard Dean Andersen played secret agent Angus MacGyver, who would make use of everyday items to craft explosives or a radio or any countless number of cool things. Every episode found MacGyver using little more than his Swiss Army knife and some duct tape to jury-rig some complex device to achieve his objectives. Basically, MacGyver wasn’t real and you’re not a Swiss Army knife. It's important to be true to your natural behavioral style.MacGyver was a genius at jury-rigging solutions for success.

Unfortunately, though, MacGyver wasn’t real and you’re not a Swiss Army knife. You can’t jury-rig your success by trying to adapt yourself to something you weren’t meant to be. While a kitchen knife might have made a great terminal switch for one of MacGyver’s bombs, you can’t effectively jury-rig yourself to fit some role that isn’t true to who you are and expect to find the levels of satisfaction and success you want.

In real life, you might jury-rig lots of unimportant things, but when it comes to the truly important aspects of your life, you would never jury-rig them. You would never even consider using a safety pin to hold your child’s seatbelt together or duct tape to hold your car’s brakes in place. So why would you consider jury-rigging something as important as your career in real estate by adapting yourself to some role that isn’t authentic for you?

Jury-rig yourself in a role that didn’t work out well for you? You may not have been suited to it from the very start. What is your natural behavior style?

What’s my style?