Resilience, adaptability & capacity

Be adaptable, not annoyed.

Another installment on surviving agency-land.

There are lots of facts that we just need to accept: people will let you down, people are resistant to change, people have different levels of capacity, and there are always things you can’t control. Oh yeah, and most people have good intensions.


All these things need to be accepted. But I think all too often we quickly fly off the handle.  It is far too easy to let your frustrations explode into the environment around you. Tell everyone how annoyed you, stamp your foot and call your client stupid, or just generally not think much of someone.  All of which, is perfectly obvious to the person next to you: and depending on their own experience will either encourage them (generally junior staff) to join in or discourage them from wanting to work with you (generally senior staff).

Both results have different motivators: junior staff want to be seen to be fitting in and will take the lead from the next senior person they see. Having a toxic culture like this isn’t a great outcome though. Senior staff will generally start to mistrust you: if you can talk like that about someone you work with – then what on earth are you saying about them? And having a culture of mistrust is equally as unwelcome.

Most inter-personal and professional conflicts can generally be overcome if you take a second to really think about it, and remember those smaller things to be accepted: there are things you can’t control, and most people have good intentions.

And oh yeah, most people make mistakes.


The important thing? Is how to overcome these obstacles (and not these people). Without making your co-worker, subordinate, boss, client making them feel like you’ve just crucified them. Like any obstacle: it’s critical to find another way around to achieve success.  At the end of the day, having a plan b is just as important as having a plan C.

Again, it’s very easy to try and distil the issue or obstacle down and have only two answers – I see it all the time: problem x can either be solved with a or b. But there is always an option C – and the better you get at finding that, but more importantly, understanding that there is an option c, and you will suddenly be adaptable.

And adaptability means survival.


Believe it or not, you can do a lot more after working for 10 years (regardless of industry) than you can on your very first probation. Another insightful fact I hope (jk). But it’s important to remember that this is just the case for everyone around you: we all have different capacities about certain situations.

I can sit through some situations like a cucumber (public speaking in front of 500 people), and completely have a heart attack in others (no way I’m giving that one away), but the quicker you understand and realise the strengths and weaknesses of those around you, then you’ll learn how to know their capacity and complement your own.

And by being resilient and adaptable, then your own capacity will naturally increase.

In summary

Next time you get annoyed, take a moment to breathe, take a moment to be resilient, and think about how to adapt, and then finally assess the capacity of the situation of those around you.

It’s all about people. But it is still probably more about you.

Jye Smith is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy & Operations, Asia Pacific at Weber Shandwick. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, Jye a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital and social media strategist.