Are You Agile?


A woman holding an umbrella jumping against a yellow background

Over the past few years, we've become all too familiar with the idea that change is constant. We have experienced significant changes that have been out of our control as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters, warring nations, and so on. If we are in a state of change or there are changing situations that we are a part of, our balance can be impacted by whether or not we are agile.


With each change, we have to self-manage. What do I mean by self-manage? Let's take a quick look at the the Social+Emotional Intelligence model we use from the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence® (ISEI). Within the Self-Management quadrant are 10 different competencies, one of which is Personal Agility.


Four quadrant model of emotional intelligence from the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence

It’s really very simple – how we self-manage impacts not only ourselves, but everyone around us. Personal Agility is all about how we self-manage through change.


Personal Agility is defined as: The ability to anticipate and respond rapidly to changing conditions; acknowledging we live in an era of global permanent change; agility means taking a proactive approach to change, anticipating challenges and opportunities, a willingness to rethink past assumptions, and readily, willingly, rapidly and effectively adapting to change.


Change is Beautiful!

A black and white photo of a flower with a colorful butterfly on it with the text "change is beautiful"

So often, we think of change as a negative. It can, in fact, be a beginning, something new, fresh and exciting. What changes in your life have been beautiful?


I believe changes such as the birth of a child, a new home, new job, achieving a credential or degree, marriage or divorce can all be good and beautiful changes. Beautiful doesn’t mean easy – the changes I just described all require a lot of effort and work. But it’s worthwhile!


How do we become agile?

Quote: It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligence, but those most responsive to change." Charles Darwin

Darwin stated, “It is not the strongest of the species that Survive, nor the most intelligent, but those Most Responsive to Change.” We don’t want to just survive change - we want to thrive in change to remain balanced.


Here are 5 ways to thrive in change:


1) Work On Your Mindset


Your mindset during change will depend on your beliefs about change. If we have experienced similar change in the past, the belief about our ability to navigate and “survive” that change will impact our thoughts and feelings and ultimately the end result.


What is your belief about change? Or a specific type of change? If you think it will fail or that it’s too hard, you will feel overwhelmed and get stuck.


On the other hand, if you’re confident you can handle any change that comes your way, you most likely will. Again, change isn’t easy, but your mindset can set you up for failure or success.


2) Reset Your Thinking Brain By Naming Your Emotions


When we get triggered by strong emotions, our brain switches its operating system so that we are in fight-or-flight mode. It essentially shuts off the part of our brain that will help us problem solve our way to a solution. But in times of change, we need our "thinking" brain.


However, even though we might need to access that "thinking" brain, we should always honor the strong emotions that have arisen. They are legitimate and we need to know it’s ok to have an emotional response to change. Trying to push away emotions during times of stress or change will only lead to bigger emotional difficulties down the road.


One of the easiest ways you can flip that switch is to name your emotions. If you can follow that up by writing it down or talking it out, even better. Now that you are back in thinking mode, you can get down to the business of navigating the change.


3) Adopt a Beginner’s Mind


How many times have you faced a change, and you only see it through the lens of your past experience, your knowledge or expertise? If you’re in a leadership role, do those around you express doubt and not understand the necessity of change?


Try forgetting all you know and view it completely fresh with no experience or expertise. Get really curious. Pretend you’re that happy and eager young child excited to learn something new. Maybe even borrow a brand new box of crayons for a sniff to help transport you back to your beginner’s mind.