What Skill Will Be Most Prized in the Future Workplace?

July 13, 2020

What Skill Will Be Most Prized in the Future Workplace?

May 29, 2023

In this recession, many Boomers are busy brushing up their Slack and Instagram skills, doing their best to stay relevant. Maybe there’s another newly discovered skill that has even greater upside?

As outlined in this Fast Company article and a variety of great recent books from “Range” (David Epstein) to “Elastic” (Leonard Mlodinow), the importance of adaptability and versatility has never been greater. More and more successful leaders are generalists at the intersection of many specialists. Think of the conductor overseeing all the unique, specialized talent in the orchestra.

If “cognitive flexibility” is now considered one of the top skills needed to excel in a 2020 workplace, what do you do to build these skills? Here are a few tips:

  1. Practice the “left brain/right brain” tango. Over time, our brains become more holistic in their thinking. As we age, we can move more easily from logical to lyrical, all in the same paragraph. And, we can shift from gravitas to levity just when it’s needed. So, make sure you are curious about a wide variety of topics as your brain will synthesize that diversity of raw material and offer some epiphany-like insights.
  2. Be like Peter. The management theorist Peter Drucker spent the last three decades of his 94 years writing two-thirds of his forty books. He credits his later life flexible mind on the fact that he had a practice of finding a new subject every two years in which he’d become one of the world’s leading experts, whether it was Japanese ikebana or medieval war strategies. Over the past few years, I’ve studied emotions, festivals, and wisdom even though these had nothing to do with being a hospitality entrepreneur.
  3. Go to the zoo, go for a run, take a shower, take a photo of a flower. Figure out what habitat heightens your creativity and imagination and trust that all the ingredients you’ve gathered in points 1 and 2 above are ready to be baked. For some, you may want to read Michael Pollan’s “How to Change Your Mind” to understand the new science of psychedelics as a means of opening up your mental landscape.

As the Fast Company article outlines, historian and futurist Yuval Noah Harari concluded in his 21 lessons for the 21st century that “in order to keep up with the world of 2050, you will need not merely to invent new ideas and products—you will above all need to reinvent yourself again and again.” This makes cognitive flexibility—the cerebral key to reinvention—an essential trait to nurture in the years ahead.

Your brain is an organ that needs to be exercised. Your synapses deserve to be taken off-leash more often. True magic may ensue.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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