Co-Founder of Supertrends.
Before industrialization, it was more likely that we would follow in our parent’s footprints and take the same job. Today, innovation accelerates so fast that we must adopt new ways to work within rapidly evolving industries. This can feel completely chaotic for many. There is so much change — and much of it you can neither predict, connect or control.
Such feelings have been shown to increase rates of depression, stress, burnout and general health. So, how do we cope?
In his book What is Water, former McKinsey senior expert, Kayvan Kian, describes how we can thrive in a rapidly changing future. The central key, he says, is to radically focus on what you can control. I especially responded to his concept that his book “contains zero new ideas” because he uses foundational ideas from philosophy, stoicism and psychology. What’s new about his book is the emphasis on looking at everything with a radical focus.
1. Focus on using your strengths. This is one of Kian’s first points and has its roots in Gallup’s CliftonStrengths assessment. In order to focus on your strengths, pay attention to what causes you to thrive during your workday. Outsource your weaknesses and the things that take energy away from you. For me personally, I outsource cleaning, washing and my personal administration to outside companies. I then use the time saved on what I am best at and enjoy the most.
2. Reduce unnecessary negativity in your life. Instead of focusing on negativity, build on positive experiences through daily gratitude. There is a lot of research on the effectiveness of gratitude in business. This reorientation away from negativity can especially be used when things get difficult. Make sure to have gratitude for everything good happening in your life; basically just being alive and seeing others thrive are things I have learned to appreciate when something or parts of something I am doing goes wrong.
3. Respond constructively toward others. You cannot control other people’s behavior toward you or what they say, but you can choose your response; this can change their behavior over time. An example is how we choose to discuss on social media. Are we being constructive or destructive? Do we have meaningful discussions about the subjects or are we just trying to put each other down? The same distinction can be used in many other situations.
4. Choose a positive perspective on your work and derive meaning from it. There is a popular vision story told in Kian’s book but also included elsewhere such as in Annette Simmon’s book, The Story Factor, where construction workers see their task from different perspectives. One sees himself as simply laying bricks. Another as building a wall. But the last worker sees himself as building a cathedral. Are you only laying bricks or are you helping to improve society? It creates greater meaning for me when I ask what the deeper purpose is to what I do.
5. Practice objectivity. Instead of waiting around for others to praise you, view yourself from the outside and award yourself for your progress and accomplishments every day. To me, this means not waiting to achieve ultimate grand goals before I take pleasure from results. Instead, I set many smaller, short-term goals and enjoy when each is reached.
To me, the consequence of all these five hacks is more productive days as well as greater overall happiness, which, by the way, are two things that go hand-in-hand. When the world around us is turbulence, your strength and stability must come from within.