In our quickly changing modern world of work, there is much more to success than raw, intellectual intelligence, or the mastery of facts and information. Much has been written on the importance of EQ, or emotional intelligence, and that it’s becoming ever more essential. Now there’s even more to the story.
The key to long-term thriving may be an ability to enthusiastically embrace change itself. AQ, or Adaptability Quotient, refers to this sort of resilience in the face of ever-changing circumstances. It’s vitally important, and it can be learned.
The Importance of AQ
According to recent research, the average U.S. employee spends 4.2 years in one job, which means they may have nine different jobs over the course of their standard-length career. Furthermore, they can expect up to 35% of the job skills needed to change over the course of just a few years. Clearly, change is a constant, and adaptability to this change is the one job requirement guaranteed to endure.
How to Improve AQ
The good news about AQ is that, compared to IQ, it is relatively fluid. Steps we take now can help us significantly improve our AQ over time.
To boost AQ, leadership consultant Mattson Newell recommends a four-step approach:
- See it: be aware of what’s going on and interpret it in a spirit of intellectual honesty
- Own it: take responsibility for mindfully adapting to ever-changing conditions
- Solve it: use your strategic capabilities to take useful and novel views of your situation
- Do it: adopt a posture of agency and action
Strategist Robert Cerone suggests we cultivate:
- An open mind: to avoid fixed ideas and continuously refresh our perspectives
- An open heart: to enrich our thinking by taking on the perspectives of others
- An open will: to release ego and identity and plunge willingly into new waters
Honing AQ is more than a job skill; it’s a way of life. You can boost AQ by adding an array of different elements and activities to your lifestyle – and have a lot of fun in the process.
Fast Company points to the example of Yangyang Chang, who has achieved success as an auditor at Ernst & Young, a teacher of Chinese language and culture, and an improvisational comedian (a skillset that may be particularly useful for building AQ – and having a great time doing all of these).
Indeed, the easiest way to get enthusiastic about change may be to build the most interesting life you can.
Those with the highest AQs don’t just accept change – it makes them stronger. The mathematician Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about this concept of antifragility.
Several overlapping skills, mindsets, and practices can help us become antifragile, including choosing the right risks, seeing life and work as a laboratory, and grounding ourselves in tradition while preparing for the long game.
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