NextMapping Future of Work Blog

Cheryl Cran

Welcome to the Future of Work blog – this is where you will find posts on all things related to the future of work.

We have guest bloggers that include CIO’s, Behavioral Scientists, CEO’s, Data Scientists including posts by our founder Cheryl Cran.

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How To Flex In Times of Flux

June 21, 2019

Are you inundated with massive change? Join the club! We are in a time where it is imperative that we all get better at learning how to flex in times of flux.

Definition of ‘flex’: To move or tense

Definition of ‘flux’: Synonym for ‘change’

The speed of change and information that we are dealing with equates to overloading a single laptop in one week.

As humans, we are being challenged to create new neural pathways in our brains that allow us to simplify complexity.

What does it mean to create new neural pathways?

It means rewiring our thoughts to focus on being more flexible, more agile and more creative.

In Maslow’s hierarchy the bottom of the pyramid is physiological needs/survival and the top is self – actualization. When faced with change the natural human response is to do whatever is necessary to survive.

However what we need to learn to do now and into the future is to override the survival mechanism of the brain. We need to focus on the levels of above survival such as esteem, belonging, community and ultimately self-actualization.

To create new neural pathways we need to train the brain to think in new ways. For example, when experiencing change a programmed response might be to be afraid, to resist the change or to avoid having to make any changes.

A new neural pathway related to change would be to notice the thoughts about change then consciously choose to reframe with new thoughts.

A fear thought would be reframed to an esteem thought such as, “I am confident that I have the skills and resources to successfully handle any change”.

A resistance thought could be reframed to a community thought such as, “I am noticing that I am resisting this change because it feels like a threat – I choose to look at the change through the eyes of everyone who will be impacted by the change.”

An avoidance thought could be reframed with a self actualization thought for example, “I am noticing that I am avoiding having to change – I am going to take full responsiblity for my behavior and seek creative solutions to this change that will help me to move forward with the change.”

The only way to create consistent flex ‘ability’ is to consistently train the brain to look for the most energy efficient thoughts available.

Science has found that new neural pathways are created in human brains when we make space away from information overload.

Ways to make space in the brain include spending time in quiet, listening to inspiring music, reading inspiring books and taking time to seek creative moments.

Do you remember the last time that you felt you had ‘space’ to think about your life and work objectively?

If you find yourself constantly reacting, it is a sign that your brain is in constant defense and protection against the perceived threat of change.

Here are some specific ‘how to’s’ on how to flex in times of flux:

  • Create whitespace in your calendar for you to simply allow the brain to relax and not have to ‘do’ any thinking
  • Consider meditation or breathing apps to help you relax, breathe and calm the nervous system.
  • Use either a handwritten journal or an online journal as a place to ‘dump your thoughts’ and therefore create space in your brain.
  • To train your brain and to create newly embedded neural pathways set a goal to reframe ‘survival’ thoughts to ‘self-actualization’ thoughts.
  • Use resources such as futureme.org to hold yourself accountable for thinking differently
  • Work with a coach to guide, help and hold you to your goals to think in more flexible and agile ways
  • Seek support with mentors and guides who you feel model the thinking that you want to emulate
  • Be honest with yourself and others when you are resisting or defending and seek to find a creative way of responding.

The fast pace of change is not slowing down any time soon.

Our opportunity is to build our ‘flex’ muscles in order to be able to bend with change, to move with change and to ultimately lead change.