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6 Techniques to Nurture an Agile Mind

Sarah Young

It is time for a new way of thinking. I would go as far as to say it is time for us to really evolve in our thinking patterns. In order to deal with a new landscape, one has to observe the view through new eyes.

Our current minds were perfect for a time when change occurred at a fairly slow rate, but we have since been propelled into a new era. One where, by the time we have become accustomed to the change, it has moved on again and we yet again still left behind and scratching our heads.

It is easy for us to bury our heads in the sand and think that everything will be ok if we just ignore the change. It’s all so confusing. It creates anxiety and uncertainty and leaves us fearful for our futures careers as well as that of our children.

The best approach that we can take is to adjust our thinking and change how we perceive the world.

It would be advisable to stop clinging to the past and to ‘how things were done’, but instead shift our thinking to the present and the future as ‘how things were done’ will soon be a distant memory that belongs in the history books.

  1. Acceptance – It is the very first step that you have to make. You have to actually take the time to acknowledge that the world is changing, will never stop changing and that the speed of change will only get quicker and quicker. Start learning to be fine with that, not fearful of it. Yes, it brings uncertainty, but it also brings endless possibilities, exciting new ideas and technology as well as opportunities and breakthroughs that we could never have imagined before. Surround yourself with others who ARE embracing change, and start to follow influencers who are leading change. Don’t spend too much time (or any at all) with those who talk endlessly about how terrible change is and the negative effects of it. You can educate them later once you’ve been converted!
  2. Mindfulness – This is the art of bringing your attention and energy to the present moment. When practiced regularly, you can bring your mind to a place where you are so deeply engrained in your current activity that there is no place for worry about what happened in the past or fear of an imagined future. Meditation can be a great place to start – and there are plenty of Mindfulness meditation apps that will take you just 10 minutes a day. ‘Headspace’ is a great example. Commit to this and don’t give yourself a hard time if your mind wanders. This is ok, it takes practice. (Plus, it has been said that this practice will extend your lifespan and lower your stress levels!). If you think that you don’t have time to meditate, then you probably need to meditate more than most.
  3. Getting rid of limiting beliefs – If you think that speaking positive words to yourself is fluffy and something that you feel uncomfortable doing, then realize this: every time that you say something negative to yourself, like ‘I can’t cope with this change’, or ‘I’m no good with change’, you are making an affirmation to yourself. Say it enough times and it will turn into a belief. Henry Ford said it perfectly. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right!’ Your thinking and what you believe will create the life that you lead. Change this, and change your life. At ANY age. Try saying to yourself each morning “I am part of this exciting, fast paced world and I embrace change”.
  4. Expanding your comfort zone – The majority of us love our comfort zones. They are relaxing, non-confronting and a great place to hide. However, they can also be unfulfilling, boring and may cause us to get left behind or leave us with a feeling that something is missing in our lives. Not much will grow in a comfort zone (and that includes our own personal development) and they are a stagnating place to be. This is especially so now that we live amidst constant change. Expanding your comfort zone means doing things that make you feel slightly uncomfortable. For example, mixing up your daily routines, walking into a networking event where you know no-one, getting your coffee and lunch from a different cafe every day, taking a different route to work or visiting places that you have never been to before. The key is to get comfortable with being slightly uncomfortable – take baby steps first and then bring comfort zone expansion into your work. Start by putting your hand up for a bigger role in a project, put an idea for business process improvement forward at a meeting, and ask for some training as examples. Once you are comfortable with this concept, start stretching yourself further. Public speaking anyone? Start to become a change-maker, not a change-hater.
  5. Growth mindset -The growth mindset approach is THE change approach. A growth mindset perceives everything that happens in life, career or business as a learning opportunity. Criticism is viewed as positive feedback, setbacks are a chance to learn new skills and build resilience and new challenges are an opportunity to develop and expand that comfort zone. Effort is the key to build a growth mindset. The fixed mindset sees criticism and setbacks as opportunities to quit and as personal failure. Growth mindset individuals are becoming highly sought after and are viewed as potential leaders or great current leaders. (Read Carol Dwek’s Mindset).
  6. Emotional intelligence – (EI). EI is the practice of recognising, understanding and controlling your own emotions and recognising, understanding and empathising the emotions of others. EI is in the top 10 of most sought-after skills in 2020 and also is one of the quickest ways to bring about personal growth and change. Start to focus on becoming more self-aware by firstly observing your thoughts (with no judgement). Become more aware of thought patterns that may not be serving you and reframe them into ones that do. Then, recognise what your emotional triggers are and learn how to place controls on them and learn to perceive your life situations in a positive manner. When it comes to recognising emotions in others, learning to read body language is a great way to do this as it can make up to 55% of all communication. Understand what is important to those around you and develop genuine care for them. Being able to communicate this care for them, especially when things aren’t going right for them is empathy, (a crucial element of EI). Leaders with high EI make much more effective leaders and there’s a saying that goes. ‘IQ will get you hired, but EI will get you promoted.’

Incorporating the above techniques will not only make you adaptable and embracing of change, but they are traits that will positively enhance your quality of your life.

Happy change making!

Sarah Young is the Founder and Lead Coach of Vision Insight, a company focused on enhancing Organisational Growth Mindset and Successful leadership.

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