Adapting To New Ways of Being While Still Being You

IQ is the minimum you need to get a job, but AQ is how you will be successful over time.

Natalie Fratto

Fratto says AQ is not just the capacity to absorb new information, but the ability to work out what is relevant, to unlearn obsolete knowledge, overcome challenges, and to make a conscious effort to change. AQ involves flexibility, curiosity, courage, resilience and problem-solving skills too.

Amy Edmondson, a professor of leadership and management at Harvard Business School, says it is the breakneck speed of workplace change that will make AQ more valuable than IQ.

Edmondson says every profession will require adaptability and flexibility, from banking to the arts. Say you are an accountant.Your IQ gets you through the examinations to become qualified, then your EQ helps you connect with an interviewer, land a job and develop relationships with clients and colleagues. Then, when systems change or aspects of work are automated, you need AQ to accommodate this innovation and adapt to new ways of performing your role.

(Penny Locaso) suggests three ways to boost your adaptability: first, limit distractions and learn to focus so you can determine what adaptations to make.Second, ask uncomfortable questions, like for a pay rise, to develop courage and normalise fear. Third, be curious about things that fascinate you by having more conversations rather than Googling the answer, something “which wires our brains to be lazy” and diminishes our ability to solve difficult challenges

In a TED talk, (Otto Scharmer) recommends remaining open to new possibilities, trying to see a situation through someone else’s eyes and reducing your ego so that you can feel comfortable with the unknown.

Seb Murray, Is ‘AQ’ more important than intelligence?


Proactively Challenging Our Perceived Reality

We’re entering a future where IQ and EQ both matter far less than how fast you’re able to adapt (AQ).

Natalie Fratto

There’s no question that change can feel stressful, but Fratto says you can stave off that stress by working on how your mind processes new information.

One of the most helpful ways to cope with change is to think about what could happen before it actually happens, Fratto notes.

Active unlearners seek to challenge what they presume to already know, and instead, override that data with new information.

Natalie Fratto

When you think about reaching a goal at work, you probably reflect on what has worked for you in the past, and try to mimic the same process that helped you achieve success beforehand. Fratto says this thought process is common, but it could be holding you back from adapting to potential changes.

Fratto says we’re too focused on exploiting our current workflow, when we should be using exploration — “a state of constant seeking” — to see what’s around the corner.

Rebecca Muller, How Improving Your “Adaptability Quotient” Can Help You Succeed


Validating Our Experiences & Ourselves From Within

Psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow had major influence in popularizing the idea of self-concept in the west. According to Rogers, everyone strives to reach an “ideal self”. Rogers also hypothesized that psychologically healthy people actively move away from roles created by others’ expectations, and instead look within themselves for validation. On the other hand, neurotic people have “self-concepts that do not match their experiences. They are afraid to accept their own experiences as valid, so they distort them, either to protect themselves or to win approval from others.”

Self-concept, Wikipedia


The Adventure of Our Lives

Stepping off the edge of the known world and into the unknown.

For many of us, it feels like we’ve entered unprecedented times, with change now occurring at an accelerated pace. In reflecting upon this all and putting it within the context of my life’s work, I’ve suddenly realized what we are being asked to do and how it gives this unfamiliar, epic experience a sense of familiarity to it.

What we are being asked of by life is to be the explorers and pioneers of our time, just as our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents may have been, yet within a completely different contextual realm of experience.

In effect, instead of exploring, pioneering, and settling new lands at the edge of our world around us (like my parents did taming the northern frontier of Manitoba back in the fifties), we’re being asked to explore, pioneer, and settle new “lands” at the edge of our “world“ within us.

For many of us though, this is going to be an exceedingly difficult adventure to undertake. Why? Because we aren’t even aware that these inner worlds exist and don’t understand how they fundamentally help us (and also hinder us) in perceiving our world and our very sense of self.

Therefore, until we can accept that there is a much larger “world” beyond the horizon of our conventional minds, we will continue to lack the capabilities and capacities to tackle these wicked problems which are much like dragons emerging from off the edge of the known world to wreak havoc upon it.

This is going to require us to have great courage, authenticity, and creativity going forward. That’s because we need to be real creative to openly step towards the very things we normally defensively step away from and avoid. In the process, we need to learn to drop our shields, armour, and masked helms, giving us the mobility and broader vision to make possible what previously seemed impossible.

In effect, the way forward isn’t about trying to know everything, having the certainty that we know all of the answers. Rather it’s about being comfortable with not knowing everything and embracing the uncertainty of the unknown by asking the right questions. In doing so, our questions become quests that lead us on an adventure within a wilderness that we truly want to step into and explore, pulled along by something much greater than ourselves.


What It’s Like Being A Canary

Breaking free from your cage when you’re dying to feel alive and learning to fly to craft your own nest—your newer vantage point of your world.

Illustration of Canary in the Coal Mine Idiom (State Department/Doug Thompson)

In reflecting upon my last post, I was reminded of how someone once described me as a “canary in a coal mine”. In effect, I have the ability to see social patterns (i.e. culture) that can be jeopardizing to an organization and its people in turn but are often invisible to them because they don’t have the sensitivity and awareness to see them.

Of course, they joked, the canary unfortunately “dies” in the process.

And for the most part, that was symbolically true with regards to my own life, as I often reached a point where if these negative patterns weren’t addressed by the company, I found it soul-crushingly hard to stay there and see how it was affecting people, so I often quit because I couldn’t take feeling and sensing that pain on a daily basis.

In other words, the longer I stayed there, the more I had to internally shut down and compartmentalize almost my entire self, my humanity, otherwise I’d go nuts in the process. It was like being on a raft on a river approaching a huge waterfall but the people steering the raft were “navel-gazing” to a specific point in the distance, completely unaware of what was happening right under their very noses.

For the most part, this is what the past two decades have felt like for me, not just with regards to being within organizations, but with regards to being within society as well. Reality has been changing continuously, giving us warning signals, but many of us have been stuck in our bubble of beliefs, our constructed reality, oblivious to what’s been going on under our very noses.

Nevertheless some of us have been seeing these signals for some time that a new world is emerging, and communicating with others of similar vision that we need to update our maps and social constructs (i.e. institutions) to better align with the present reality of this new world arising before us.

That’s why we all need to start breaking free from our own constructed cages now, no matter how safe they may seem to be, and start learning to independently fly into the greater wilderness of the unknown.

That’s because life is no longer scripted like a superficial TV commercial but rather is now a deep, unscripted adventure. We each need to craft our own nest now, a safe sanctuary within the wilderness which we can launch our explorations from to get a broader view of this new world’s landscape before us.


Getting Real

How the social foundations of our world are being shown to be visibly outdated by an invisible virus.

Flammarion Engraving, Wikipedia

Social contracts are just social constructs that we’ve collectively created. They are often invisible to us, working within the background of our lives, providing us with a stable foundation that allows to makes sense of and navigate our world collectively together.

Yet when our world changes around us, we need to update these social constructs we navigate by or else risk going off course and crashing into a reality we didn’t see in front of us. In effect, our world has changed but the maps we’ve created to navigate them by haven’t.

And just as we have created them before, so too can we recreate them again. We just have to make the conscious choice to do so.

The hard part is recognizing and realizing that these social contracts aren’t permanent truths of reality that are sacred and untouchable but rather social constructs crafted to help visibly manifest our collectiveness within reality. Until we can make these seemingly invisible aspects of our lives visible, shifting them from something we’re subjectively immersed within to something we can stand back and objectively reflect upon, we won’t be able to let go and unlearn them, allowing us to construct newer ones in their place.

And of course, even more difficult to recognize and realize is that our perceived identities are entwined with these social constructs as well, being social constructs themselves. In effect, we are not our jobs. We are something so much larger than what we currently believe we are. We just need to see that our perception of ourselves is just a belief, one that once empowered us long ago but now limits us today. By letting go of that old belief, as a relic of our past, we can learn to step out of it and see a larger belief (and Self) we can step into in turn, thus empowering us once again.

To sum up, we’re in a time now where so much doesn’t seem real anymore because we actually lost touch with reality a long time ago. To realign ourselves once again, we need to get real, seeing and listening to reality as it truly is now rather than how we once believed it was and expect it to be. This is how we will collectively traverse and converse our way into the new world emerging in front of us.


Reintegrating With Real Work

But, just as thinking about postwar planning started as early as 1940, we should already be considering how to reintegrate people into work in the medium term, for example by lining up training for new jobs and helping revive suspended businesses

We cannot just allow people to fester at home for anything up to six months under, the flimsy pretence that they are ‘working from home’, and then expect them to slot back into the economy with ease. Let’s get real.

Len Shackleton, Coronavirus will only ‘revolutionise’ the working habits of the privileged

Taking Back Our Work

Pull the emergency handbrake on business as usual and, individually and collectively, accept the choice of hitting one of two buttons: the panic or the pause. Let’s embrace the pause.

Lisa Richardson, Communications Strategist, Arc’teryx

This is a moment where the source code of capitalism can be reworked.

Max Levine, CEO, Nico (Neighborhood Investment Company)

The idea that companies, markets, the capitalist system could ever stop, change course, and focus on what matters seemed absurd just a few weeks ago. The question for business becomes: What’s possible for companies today that was impossible, and what’s impossible today that was once possible?

Some of what was accepted now seems absurd.

Almost all of the advertising on TV seems absurd—messages imploring consumption for a lifestyle that doesn’t exist right now. Relics of a past era that look naive — simple optimism and individualism from an era that feels ancient already.

After that, we will need a time of massive reconstruction. We will need to reconstitute careers, teams, companies, and communities. But having seen behind the curtain, and now knowing that the old premise of radical individualism and relentless shareholder primacy are mirages that don’t stand the test of time or strain, companies will be called to operate radically differently.

The social contract that applies to capitalism has been rewritten. Creating value for shareholders at the expense of everything else will seem radically out of touch. Creating value for the world now seems the only viable thing to do.

Perhaps in that, we can find the inspiration and agency to take back to our work: We can achieve what previously seemed impossible. This mind-set shift could create the next era of great leaders, companies, and massive value for the world.

Sebastian Buck, The Impossible for Capitalism is Suddenly Possible


The Everlasting Present

Research does show that when you take people away from the things that are familiar to them, it’s surprisingly easy for people to lose track of themselves—their identity, the things that are important to them.

Most of us have not faced a situation even remotely like this. So we have no previous experience that we can use to interpret it. We have no guidance about how we should be responding.

I think it conveys a sort of dreamlike quality. It doesn’t feel real because we have no points of reference.

Susan Clayton, Psychologist, College of Wooster

Our routine is the scaffolding of life. It’s how we organize information and our time. And without it, we can feel really lost.

Adrienne Heinz, Clinical Research Psychologist, Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD

Precarity comes from uncertainty, by having to deal with challenges that are bigger than ourselves. Now we’re facing a pandemic we cannot face on our own.

Part of our surreal situation, I feel, is that this coronavirus—we cannot see it. But it’s dangerous, and people are dying from it.

Elena Portacolone, Sociologist, University of California

Right now, many of the patterns we know and love have been obliterated

What she meant was we can’t plan for the future, because in the age of the coronavirus, we don’t know what we’ll be doing in six months, or even tomorrow. We’re stuck in a new kind of everlasting present.

Matt Simon, Why Life During a Pandemic Feels So Surreal


The Ever-Changing Career

Even before the coronavirus crisis, there were clear signs of workers around the world feeling anxious about navigating the future of work and staying relevant in a changing economy.

But it’s not all about hard tech skills. Equally as important are human-centric and soft skills.

The reality is that career decisions will happen more spontaneously, and through happenstance, amidst uncertainty and rapid change.

What this means for career management is that individuals need to be in a state of constant readiness, and flexible and spontaneous in their career decisions.

…a protean career is one where the individual drives their own career based on personal values, and where success is based on how satisfied you feel with life and work, not necessarily how much money or power or fame you obtain.

Tomoko Yokoi, There’s never been a better time to build a “protean career”