In my recent blog on the great opportunities for Freelancers arising out of the rising chaos in the world job market (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I promised a thorough discussion of the 10 skills crucial to your success you’ll need to develop in the next few years. The countdown is on. Here is skill #10, Cognitive Flexibility
What the heck is Cognitive Flexibility?
Cognitive Flexibility is a term used by psychologists to describe the ability to shift quickly from one concept to another. The easiest way to describe it is to think of switching channels on your TV. Suppose you have a tennis match on one channel and a college football game on another. As you switch back and forth, your mind must quickly adjust to a different set of rules, play, and circumstances. People who are not cognitively flexible find this difficult. It takes them a few minutes or longer before they can engage in the events happening on the new channel.
Why is this so important?
Millions of jobs are going to disappear in the next few years. But, there will also be lots of new jobs created. The problem is those jobs haven’t been invented yet. What types of jobs are these? Data analysts who can help decipher the huge amount of data generated by the internet of things. Specialized sales reps who can explain new products and services to customers and clients. Managers and consultants who can help steer companies through this process.
If you are a Freelancer filling one of these functions, you will need cognitive flexibility. You may be working for more than one company. Company A may be playing tennis. Company B, playing football.
Even if you’re working for one company, Department A could be playing soccer, while Department B…well, you see where this is going.
How Can I Learn Cognitive Flexibility?
There are several things you can do to improve cognitive flexibility
- Read – Reading stimulates several areas of the brain simultaneously. The more complex the subject, the better. Add to this by making notes as you go.
- Play games. Lots of games. Word games, crossword puzzles, chess. There are lots of online games that will get you thinking.
- Make lists of different wild and wonderful ways to accomplish the same thing.
- Try breaking big topics down into chunks.
Keep going with these activities until you feel you can easily switch topics without losing a beat. It’s easier than you think and can be a lot of fun.
Here is your challenge: The rise of technology is already eliminating jobs at an ever increasing pace. As this trend accelerates, workers will be displaced in two directions. Those who are unprepared will be pushed out into lower paying jobs. Those who start now developing the 10 critical skills essential to Freelancing will find themselves positioned to succeed in jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. And…at much higher compensation.
Which one are you?