Agility means having a wide range of tools at your disposal, which is an argument for consuming a lot of ideas and information, but you don't want to paralyze yourself by gathering tons of information. Learn how to keep yourself broadly informed but also focused on targeted information acquisition so you don't get overwhelmed or forget what you read long ago.
- A major reason mentally agile professionals are so successful is they take in a wide range of ideas and information and then deploy them in the right circumstances. More reading, more conversations, and more learning is awesome up to a point, but there can also be too much of a good thing if you never take action. Many of us may know professionals who fall into the trap of continually gathering information, but never seem to do anything with it. Here's how to avoid that paralysis and instead make good use of your hard fought knowledge.
First, as you're setting your learning goals, it's useful to differentiate between general knowledge you'd like to acquire and specific technical skills. The former might include things like learning about trends in artificial intelligence or management research about how to be a better leader. The latter, on the other hand, might be learning how to do computer programming in a particular language or specific techniques for how to offer your employees feedback during performance reviews. Second, now you can map your learning onto your work plan. What are the major professional milestones you're anticipating over the next three, six, or 12 months? For instance, you might be speaking at a big conference in July, presenting to the board in September, and delivering performance reviews to your direct reports in December, just to name a few possibilities.
That can help you figure out the timing for your knowledge acquisition. A key concept here is just in time learning rather than just in case learning. When you're learning just in time, the knowledge is fresh. You take an online course about how to deliver employee feedback a week before you're actually giving employee feedback and you're more focused on it because it's highly relevant and you're going to remember it a week later. Whereas if you randomly took the course because someday I might need it, it's likely to be a faded memory by the time performance reviews roll around and you'll waste time because you'll have to watch it again.
Finally, it's useful to think about the best way to get the knowledge you need. Some of that is determined by your preferred learning style. Some of us love to read books, but there are also other possibilities including online video courses, in-person workshops or trainings, audiobooks or podcasts and the like. You can also think about the times lots you have available in which to learn. If the only free time in your day is when you're making dinner or at the gym for instance, then audio might be a great option because you can easily listen and absorb information while you're doing a physical task.
When you clearly articulate the knowledge you're seeking, take in the right information at the right moment so you can actually use it and embrace learning in a format that works for you, that is a recipe for success.
- Recognize the pitfalls that negatively impact a person’s mental agility.
- Summarize the process of scenario pre-planning, or “pre-mortem.”
- Recall the importance of a decision journal.
- Explain the advantages obtained by becoming mentally agile.
- Identify the strategy mentally agile people use to avoid data paralysis.