Intellectual Health – Four Strategies to Adapt Successfully to Change

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What is an Adaptive Mindset?

An adaptive mind is a self-transforming mind. It makes you agile and flexible, open to the unexpected, and able to handle the uncertainty of change. The more you progress in life, the more capacity you need for dealing with mental complexity. Your adaptive mindset gives you the ability to course-correct and heighten your performance. It is part of your INTELLECTUAL HEALTH and contributes to your well-being and your effectiveness as a leader. 

Cultivating an adaptive mindset requires you to possess a clear point of view and to be open to other ideas. This means that you will need to be able to ask challenging questions of yourself and of others. Ask others to point out your blind spots and assumptions to you; it’s difficult and requires humility but will enable you to move forward with clarity.

Practice these four steps for embracing change in your life and work. Remember to take advantage of the connections between the steps in order to apply them to your opportunities and challenges. 

Be Open and Flexible

By being flexible, you will develop the ability to be agile, quickly pivoting when you need to deal with an environment in flux. A flexible, open person is willing to listen and to try new things. As you practice these characteristics, consider how you react to an unexpected change, mistake, or point of view. Encourage adaptive thinking from your team. Nurture real time learning for yourself and others.

Handle Uncertainty

Being in a place of uncertainty is almost always uncomfortable, and most of us don’t react well to it. But discomfort is an opportunity to grow and to stretch our capabilities. Consider how you react to uncertainty—you can fight against what you can’t control, or you can embrace it.  How do you react to uncertainty? Complexity and change are difficult. When they show up, be aware of passing the buck, blaming others, or ignoring problems. Encourage risk-taking by using instances of it for lessons and learning. Recognize the impact of change on people around you and throughout the organization.

Embrace Change

Venturing into the unknown is unsettling. Times of transition carry stress and cause us to worry about rejection, failure, or loss. But transitions can be transformative.

When you are faced with change, create a roadmap of your journey into the unknown and look back at lessons you’ve learned when faced with changes in the past. Consider how you can make informed decisions, and don’t forget to tell yourself a story of success rather than failure.

Correct Your Course

Setbacks happen. No plan can account for everything, and some fail more than others. But it is your response to these setbacks that determine how successful you are in moving forward. 

As your first step, assess and reassess your personal and professional goals to gain clarity. Next, develop a plan to support those goals and objectives. Consider what you need to pay attention to, both now and in the future and how you will keep yourself honest throughout the process. Be confident that you will land on your feet.

Intellectual Health is a learning module in our virtual Healthy & Grounded Leadership Program which can help your organization improve leader performance.


About the Author

Bob Rosen, Ph.D.

Bob Rosen, Ph.D.

Bob Rosen is founder and CEO of The Healthy Leader and author of 8 best-selling leadership books, including Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, a New York Times bestseller, and Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life, a Washington Post bestseller. At The Healthy Leader, we help develop leaders at all levels to improve their health, well-being, potential and performance.


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