A Surprising Way to Gain A Competitive Advantage And Thrive In Life
The following is a guest post from Theresa Ho.
The force of globalization is unstoppable.
The exchange of knowledge, product, capital and labour markets will no doubt continue to grow as innovation and technology continue to connect us in riding the wave of social and cultural transformation.
To keep up with the globalization trend and to continue to thrive in our environment, it is important we create opportunities to help diversify our experiences in life and enhance our adaptability skills.
Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
The reality is, adaptability is not just a sought after job skill, it is a critical skill we should all have in life to survive. As we adapt and learn, we begin to gain a greater sense of the significant role diversity plays in the lives of successful people.
The Rise Of The Gap Year
For example, in the past when students took a Gap year, a break away from their studies to pursue other interests, there was a stigma attached to it being a waste of time.
Now research has shown Gap year participation continues to rise and is being recognized by universities like Harvard and employers as valuable and extremely beneficial in helping students be more successful in their lives, studies and careers.
Even successful and progressive companies like Google recognize the value and importance of diversity.
They have publicly committed to investing in diversity in order to continue to reflect the global audience they serve.
Furthermore, in a recent report by McKinsley & Company it showed that diversity matters in global business.
In their research, they found companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially.
Studies have shown that individuals who are able to work in different environments and with eclectic groups of people often outperform homogenous groups.
The reason is, they are able to think outside the box, having been exposed more readily to different experiences and situations.
How Does This Help You Gain A Competitive Advantage?
You need to find ways to develop your adaptability muscle.
This means finding ways to diversify your experiences in life so that you can take on change, learn how to work with people, think outside the box and respond to situations that require you to think differently and get creative.
As human beings we are brilliant adapters. We can rapidly adapt and respond to our changing environment.
From a physiological perspective, we can live in extreme cold or hot weather.
Psychologically, Dr. Martin Seligman, father of Positive Psychology has also proven that anyone who is a pessimist can learn and adopt to be optimistic.
Culturally, Pews Research Center showed that we are also very good at adapting to technological change and augmenting it to suit our lives.
These evidence shows that you are much more capable of developing your adaptability skills than you think.
How Do You Develop Your Adaptability Skills?
Surround yourself with a diverse group of people
Become friends with people who aren’t your age. You can learn a lot from people who are older than you. They have been there, done that.
Through their experiences they have learned their fair share of lessons and can impart some wisdom that can save you from making the same mistakes they made.
For entrepreneurs who are looking for mentorship, SCORE is a non-profit organization dedicated to match up small business owners with retired executives who volunteer as mentors to help business grow and get off the ground.
Likewise, hang out with those who are younger than you, they have an exuberant energy that is contagious. T
hey keep you up –to-date with the latest trends and what’s new, keeping you young at heart and your mind active.
Go travel (be it domestic or international) you will encounter ‘cultural’ differences both abroad and at home (i.e. East coast vs. West coast).
Even if you don’t have much money you can go explore a nearby city or a neighborhood in your city like little Italy or Chinatown to experience a different cultural flair.
Learn a new language. Being around the energy and people whose first language is not the same as yours can give you a new perspective on their values and how they see the world.
Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. Volunteer or join meet up groups that are of interest to you. Network with other industry professionals.
Social media has never made is easier to connect and follow people who we admire. All you have to do is to engage in these activities with an open mind and be open to the possibility of having your perceptions and beliefs challenged.
Any of these activities will help you meet others who come from a different background and diversify your network. You will gain hands on experience developing your intercultural and interpersonal skills.
Attain information and learn about things that can be valuable to help you navigate your life giving you that competitive advantage.
Find Opportunities To Try Something New
The purpose of doing something new is to help stimulate your brain and create variety in your life so that you can grow.
Research has shown our brain needs to be stimulated to change and grow. Consequently, your brain is attracted to novelty and has a desire to try new things.
When we do this, it helps improve our memory and learning capacity. So think about what you have been wanting to do and try it.
Or start small by taking a different route to go to work or to the gym. Try brushing your teeth with your less dominant hand.
In trying new things it promotes mindfulness because you have to concentrate which cultivates equanimity. This helps you to adapt to change, enabling you to think on your feet and be creative in stressful situations.
So whenever you get a chance to mingle with different types of people, exchange ideas and try new things, do it!
The ability to leverage diversity to generate ideas will keep you competitive while having the ability to tackle uncertainty will give you more options in life, enabling you to thrive in today’s global environment.
This is the key to thrive and succeed in life.