When we think of the word ‘agility’ we usually think of nimble, the ability to move around quickly (perhaps like in sports). What about ‘agility’ in relations to success in life and in work? It turns out there are three ‘agilities’ that are consistently present when we see this success. And now we’ve also learnt that one of these – the one discussed today, can also reduce the risk of dementia.
So, these three agilities are:
- Hunger for learning, ongoing curiosity
- Ability to see the bigger picture, to not get stuck in the weeds
- Above average levels of emotional intelligence
Not so long ago, whilst running an international program for a major global consultancy firm. Exceptionally, highly intelligent, extremely competent people doing amazing work with incredible clients. (another secret; I tend to feel quite inadequate when surrounded by these folks, but they are always lovely). Afterwards one of the partners asked me, “Izzy (Isobel), what’s the ONE thing, you want my people to do differently to better serve our clients? ” – The answer came to me immediately. “Curiosity”. I replied to him: “I want them to be more than just curious; I want them to be hungry for information and to have a hunger to keep wanting to learn.” Why? You may be wondering, and the reason being is that they need to be curious about why their clients do what they do. Curious about why their clients react and behave the way they do. Curious about why certain challenges occur in business or why the same ones keep coming back. In fact, if I could give an injection of curiosity, that would be exactly it.
There always seems to come a time when many people feel like they ‘know’ their stuff. Of course, they may do – is it 10 000 hours of deliberate practice that gets us to expert status? That’s about 6 years, assuming you focus on your skill every single day so probably more like 12 or 15 years if you take into account
holidays, sick days, Christmas, the dog’s birthday etc.. all the distractions. And then we become soft and some will start thinking to themselves – well what is there left to learn? And with the life pressures that start hitting people at a point – work, family, finances, time – it’s easier to just stay within your comfort zone.
But think about people you know who have that extra sparkle, that extra zest, that interest in people and new things. they’re the ones who still have that ‘hunger for learning’, that desire to seek out new and different experience, to learn new skills. And now we learn that doing so helps builds a ‘cognitive reserve’, strengthening the brains’s networks so it can continue to function in later life despite the damage.
So success in life and good health later in life may just be a little bit easier if we’re curious to keep that hunger for learning. The good news is that the other two abilities will come if you’re prepared to learn and prepared to be curious.
Now, what are you going to learn today ? – That is of course if you are curious enough to want to.