December 10, 2019

Succeed in the long term: Adaptability intelligence

The world used to change way slower. You might argue that how successful you will be at your work over the long term might be determined by your AQ.

Succeed in the long term: Adaptability intelligence

For years people believed that a quick and reliable way to measure someone's intelligence, and by extension the chance to succeed in life, was through IQ (intelligence quotient).

IQ was a breakthrough when it was created. But today is not only outdated, but kind of dangerous to depend on it.

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

The quote, commonly attributed to Einstein but probably that's not the case, has a clear message. There are many kinds of intelligence.

EQ, which is commonly referred to as emotional intelligence, rose to popularity in recent years. And it makes sense. Humans are emotional beings. Knowing how to understand and take in mind emotions in the decision process sounds like a powerful weapon.

But it seems that there's a new "Q" in town. Enter AQ. Known as the adaptability intelligence, it can be loosely defined as the ability to figure out what is relevant, unlearn unneeded knowledge, and make a conscious effort to change.

These are all skills that you don't get to learn at any school. And if you think about it, there was no need to learn these skills until recently.

The world used to change way slower. People were talking about lifelong learning. They never bothered with unlearning.

But today's world is different. There is more information generated in a week than a human in a century ago would consume in his/her entire life.

In this overloaded environment, it's crucial to filter out the noise and choose to direct our limited attention to what's important. And this is a skill that was not that important until recently.

Even if you manage to select the important bits of information out there, this constant change brings a new challenge. In order to keep up, we need to unlearn obsolete stuff for making "space" for what's important at the moment.

And I doubt that there's even a single school or university that even mentions this skill.

Making the necessary effort to change might be the most difficult skill of AQ. But soon it might not be an option not to change.

Technology and AI will continue to automate human jobs. And people will need to adapt to overcome this.

Pretty much any job that spots pattern is subject to automation. This makes AQ maybe more important than IQ in our time.

You might argue that how successful you will be at your work over the long term might be determined by your AQ.

There are no prescribed steps to improve your AQ. But according to experts, these might help.

Limit distractions and learn to focus

Adapt is a very generic word. Making this abstract value a concrete plan needs focus. Learning to limit distraction and focus is your best chance of successfully figuring out which way you need to adapt.

Ask uncomfortable questions

Changing is always difficult. Acquiring the skill of confronting fear might come from asking uncomfortable questions (e.g. asking for a pay rise). Developing courage and normalizing fear is useful for any potential change you decide to do.

Be curious

Don't' be a passive consumer. Be curious about things that intrigue you. Don't just Google things. Consider that just as a first step. Actively having conversations about things that interest you enhances your ability to combine things and solve difficult problems.

I think the need for AQ in our times is clear by now. It's not an exaggeration that it can be summarized in three words: adapt or die.

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