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Why You Should Cultivate An Agile Mindset


How to keep up in an ever-changing world.
“Our world is changing at 10x speed”¹

With headlines such as this coming from media all over the world it’s hard not to feel like there is constant pressure to keep up with the pace of change. But what can you really do to ensure you aren’t left behind?

As technology continues to develop at exponential rates, it brings with it a plethora of new opportunities to enrich our lives beyond what we ever thought possible. So why is it that millions are still struggling to grasp new opportunities while economic inequality continues to widen

The answer lies in our mindset.

A Fixed Mindset

None of us are born with a fixed mindset and are instead (to risk quoting a cliche phrase) blank canvases with unlimited possibilities ahead of us. Unfortunately, society and the circumstances of our upbringing often paint a restricted picture for our lives with no room for expansion, which leads to having a fixed mindset.

“People believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. These people document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required.”³

How can we possibly expect to see opportunities and have the self-belief to jump at the chance to change our situation if this is how we see ourselves?

In her famous commencement speech, Debbie Millman said:

If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve.”⁴

While this might sound harsh, it is a much-needed reality check for many of us. So, what can we do to help get us pointing in the right direction down the path of taking control and enriching our lives?

An Agile Mindset

The word “Agileis defined as:

“The ability to move quickly and easily”

So move faster, work faster, and live faster, right? Wrong. All this will guarantee is increasing your chances of a heart attack. Not what we’re looking for.

Instead, an agile mindset is aimed at increasing your effectiveness. This will often give the impression of increased speed to observers but underneath the hood, it is actually a case of effective prioritization

If you have heard of the agile mindset before, it has likely been within the context of jobs, where “The Agile management revolution is transforming the world of work.”⁵ But I would argue that adopting this mindset can be just as effective for transforming the quality of your life outside of work as well.

How To Develop An Agile Mindset

As with most things that are worth having in life, an agile mindset is not something that you can learn overnight or by taking a short training course. It takes time, reflection, and dedication to effectively cultivate. Here are some steps you can use to help make the change.

1. Relearn How To Learn

For many of us, learning stops the minute we finish our formal education and we turn to face the world thinking of ourselves as the finished product. This is indicative of a fixed mindset and is what separates us (the majority) from the people we admire (the minority) — they never stop learning.

Developing new skills is essential if we want to move forward in any area of life. I like the way Pia Silva (a contributor to Forbes) puts it:

“Quite simply, the problems you have now — whether in business or other areas of your life — are going to persist if you don’t find new ways to approach them.”

Our brain is like a muscle, and when we haven’t stretched it for a while, reentering the mental gymnasium of learning can be a painful experience, but pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone will be one of the best decisions you can make to improve your life.

2. Be More Open

Once you have made the decision that learning new things is the right way forward, cultivating the skills of listening, valuing, and being more open to other people’s ideas or points of view is the first step to take.

For some, admitting they are wrong can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you think of yourself as being in a superior position to others, but this should be seen as an essential skill.

Being a good listener is something near the top of the checklist when companies are looking at potential employees, and it’s no surprise.

“Good listening skills can lead to better customer satisfaction, greater productivity with fewer mistakes, and increased sharing of information that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work.”⁶

If being open and becoming an effective listener can have such positive results on your work relationships just imagine what it could do for your personal relationships as well! With this step alone, you will open your whole life to a rich source of new opportunities.

3. Think Long Term

Yes, it’s going to take a lot of effort. Yes, people will tell you to do other things instead and yes, you’re going to feel like quitting. When you reach this point (for some this will come much sooner than others) it’s important to change your perspective to the bigger picture.

Remember why you started your growth in the first place. Remember that living life inside your comfort zone didn’t fulfill you, and that’s why you decided to make a change.

With pressures seemingly mounting from all sides, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of things that require your attention. This is where it becomes a question of priority. Creating an agile mindset is one thing that will drastically change your life in all areas and that should be seen as a priority now so that you can reap the rewards further down the road.

Staying The Course

Once you have diligently applied effort to cultivating an agile mindset for a period of time (say, 6 months) you’ll begin to see the world in a whole new light.

You’ll have a stronger self-belief with the knowledge that whatever life throws at you, you can adapt and get the best out of any situation.

You’ll have stronger and more meaningful connections with friends, family, and work colleagues.

You’ll feel more fulfilled by the work you do and the life you lead, and you will finally feel like you are in control and can steer your life in the direction you want it to go.

Making The Decision

Life can be difficult and positive change will be painful in one respect or another. The key to effective personal development is understanding what should be prioritized and making a promise to yourself that you will reach that goal.
 
 Millennials will change jobs twice as often as those from Generation X⁷, with a large part of this down to the rapid pace of development. The world is getting faster and if you want to thrive you need to be agile enough to keep up!