Mental agility, the ability to think on one’s feet, to think outside the box and to develop solutions is a priceless competency to have. Developing what I call a forward mind helps you thrive in diverse environments. Here’s how to start developing a mental attitude that gives you the edge;
Step away from immediacy: When you are busy all the time you don’t have time to think. Slowing down in a deliberately way allows you to catch your breath and to determine the best course of action in any given situation.
Make time to reflect: When we are on the go all the time it can be difficult to take a step back and judge whether or not you’re getting the results we want. It’s important to schedule some time each week to reflect on what worked, to identify when you were at our most productive and how we can do even better.
Engage in brainstorming: This is a great way to quickly tap from collective wisdom. Look for people who are good thinkers and who are solution-oriented to help you think through issues. Work with those whose constructive questioning or critiquing can give you fresh insights
Think on paper: Don’t try to keep track of everything you need to do in your head; this can be counterproductive. When you try thinking in your head, things can get cluttered. Learn to write your thoughts down because once the information is out of your head, it’s easier to get clarity and to figure out what to do.
Skip ‘Status quo’ mode: Acknowledging the status quo helps to establish your bearings and to decide what new actions would make a difference. But staying in status quo mode leads to stagnation and more of the same. Constructive dissatisfaction enables you to question what currently is not good enough and consider better alternatives.
Be open-minded: Strong opinions, negative assumptions and sometimes seemingly harmless prejudices can take you backwards. Neutralise this tendency by keeping company with people who challenge you and stop you from thinking in ‘this is the way it’s always been’ terms. Become your own devil’s advocate in order to diffuse any unhelpful thinking patterns.
Read read read: Reading is one of the quickest ways to enrich your mind. The more good material you read, the quicker the negative and outdated thoughts are flashed out. Go out of your way to read material different from what you normally would. This will stretch your mind as you take in new knowledge and see things from a new lens.
Change your frame: Your frame of reference does impact a lot on the viewpoints you have. For example looking at an issue in the context of today can be very different from considering the same idea say six months down the line. Bounce ideas on other people so as to get a broader perspective
Now take action: What are the three ways you could adopt to improve your mind?