Think for a moment about some of your happiest memories. Maybe you’ve experienced one or more of the following:
One thing these events have in common is that each marks a significant life change. In this lesson, we’ll look at why navigating change is important at work and at home. We’ll also see how change sometimes comes our way when we least expect it.
You might have heard the saying, “the only constant in the modern world is change.” Most of us deal with change every day. Maybe there’s construction along your usual drive home, or your schedule gets hit with unexpected meetings. But not all change is unexpected. You can drive positive change in your life to improve any situation you find yourself in at work and at home. Change happens both quickly and gradually and you can use your agility skill to contend with it. Your agility skill is embracing change and effectively adapting when things around you are constantly in motion.
Whether you know it or not, you embraced and planned for change when you opened this lesson. Maybe you weren’t sure about the topic or what would be asked of you, but here you are! Taking this course is a planned event that represents an agile shift in your life. While it comes with some degree of uncertainty, you chose to be proactive and learn something new and interesting. Being open to change opens doors.
Here are some characteristics of people who use their agility skill effectively (O’Donnell 2019). Can you think of any others?
Image 1 of 2: Photo of a man (named Zane) working as a magazine editor.
EXAMPLEZane worked for 6 years as a magazine editor prior to losing his job to company layoffs. It was a difficult time for Zane and his family. Instead of being upset, Zane set aside the next several weeks to relax, collect his thoughts, and assess what his next steps would entail. Following his respite, Zane was confident that some new and better doors would open. He used his newfound energy to reach out to people in his professional network and began a comprehensive online job search. Not more than 2 weeks into his search, Zane received a cold call from a former colleague who was interested in his services. Before he knew it, Zane was working in a senior role as a contract-to-hire editor and reporting to a person whom he greatly respected.
Here are several possible answers regarding Zane:
The word agility is often used when people talk about sports, referring to an athlete’s ability to move quickly and easily. Like an athlete, someone with a well-developed agility skill demonstrates quick mental reflexes, can easily pivot in their thoughts and actions, and has the ability to sense and react to what might happen next.
A person who can adapt is generally more valuable to an organization than someone who remains rigid in their thoughts and actions. A thought leader named Carol Dweck (2007) calls this characteristic a growth mindset. People who think with a growth mindset know their skills and talents will improve over time with hard work. They are confident they’ll succeed and persevere no matter what the circumstance (Dweck, 2007).
One takeaway from this reflection is that using your agility skills gives you options. It can be liberating to know there are several pathways to a goal or solution than that which is most obvious or habitual. Like a GPS system that reroutes a driver through heavy traffic, your agility skill gives you the power to chart multiple paths.
See if some of the adjectives below describe the way that you approach problems. Think about whether you navigate your personal and professional goals with these descriptors in mind. (An antonym has also been provided which is a word opposite in meaning to the given adjective.)
You believe that change is an opportunity for growth.
You recognize that change is necessary to move forward, so you embrace it, modifying your behavior as you surge ahead to achieve your goals.
You don’t complain about new initiatives, especially in front of peers. If you do have serious concerns, you make them in private to your manager.
You use your initiative skill to seek out areas to grow and improve.
You don’t become overwhelmed and you can cope when plans shift.
You look for new information so you can anticipate future changes.
You take suggestions and adjust appropriately.
Read the scenario below to see what these characteristics of agility might look like in the world of work.
Image 2 of 2: Image of a female receptionist (named Karlie) working at her desk or computer in a busy medical clinic.
As this example shows, practicing agility can mean the difference between success and remaining stagnant. It can create opportunities for you. In extreme cases, a lack of focus on agility can even lead to outright failure. Take a company like Blockbuster, who didn‘t respond to the growing demand for digital entertainment in the new millennium. When Netflix approached Blockbuster in the year 2000 with an offer to sell, Blockbuster failed to see the value in the deal. They weren‘t able to pivot and adapt in the face of a growing trend. By 2010, Blockbuster had filed for bankruptcy. Whether you work for a large company or are self-employed, agility is the key to riding the waves of change successfully (Graser, 2013).
Dweck, C.S. (2007). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books.
Graser, Marc. (2013, November 12). "Epic Fail: How Blockbuster Could Have Owned Netflix.” Variety Media, LLC. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://variety.com/2013/biz/news/epic-fail-how-blockbuster-could-have-owned-netflix-1200823443/
O'Donnell, Riia. (2019, September 17). “The 'new rules' of employability demand agility, determination.” HR Dive: Deep Dive. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://www.hrdive.com/news/the-new-rules-of-employability-demand-agilitydetermination/562561/