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The Adaptive Worklife

SOURCE: People Who Know (Jane Daly)
PUBLISHED: 03/12/2020


The Adaptive Worklife

Adaptability is the new competitive advantage, but it's also where some people feel lost.

Evidence from multiple studies reveal that when people are faced with unprecedented change their life often feels like it’s gone from colour to black and white. Lost people often say the colour has drained from life and often describe these times as feeling imprisoned in their own body. It seems only a few know how to switch the colour back on.

One study conducted by the great psychologist and professor Salvatore Maddi, alongside his colleague Carl Horn, uncovered something extraordinary. Their study is still one of the most extensive research programs into human adaptability and what they found was fascinating. A great article in Psychology Today summarises it beautifully and calls it the Adaptive Third experiment. Why 1 in 3 People Adapt to Change More Successfully | Psychology Today 

The study revolutionised how people understood the natural human reaction to change and identified that one third of the population exhibited what Maddi calls “existential courage”. What separated the adaptive third from everyone else is surprisingly simple, while everyone else tried to bounce back, the adaptive third took a step forward. 

What people with existential courage seem to do naturally is ask themselves one simple question ‘what can good people do when bad things happen’?

In his own words Maddi said, ‘I have spent a lifetime studying the attitudes and strategies that best help you turn stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities instead.  This is what my Hardiness approach is all about.’

A valuable extract from his research titled: Hardiness: ‘An Operationalization of Existential Courage' says

‘Existential psychologists emphasize the ongoing search for meaning in life that involves us in the ubiquitous decision-making process. Regardless of content, each decision involves choosing a future, unfamiliar path, or repeating a past, familiar path. Although choosing the future is most consistent with continuing to elaborate life’s meaning, it also brings ontological anxiety, as expressed in fear of uncertainty and possible failure. Consequently, existentialists believe that to choose the future regularly requires courage. Without courage, one may choose the past regularly, which stagnates the quest for meaning. Hardiness, comprised of the attitudes of commitment (vs. alienation), control (vs. powerlessness), and challenge (vs. security) is offered as an operationalization of existential courage. Hardiness has been shown in research to enhance performance and health, despite stressful changes, and to increase perceptions and actions consistent with choosing the future. Hardiness can now be assessed and trained to increase existential courage.’

All of our worklives have been significantly disrupted by covid-19 but the changes were already coming. The lines between our work and life have become blurred and this is likely to continue, this brings some positive things into our worklives and some that will require a different approach. What 2020 has done is accelerated and amplified the change to a digital-first world of work (and we haven’t even seen what advanced technologies have in store yet!).

The spectrum of change is diverse, small for some and unprecedented for others but we are all facing something that means we need to become more comfortable with adapting.

The team at People Who Know invite you to join a community who are on a mission to give a voice to worklives. We are driving better worklives and equity for everyone. These changes are too big for one person, one book, one government or even a world body because they do not know 'us' but by working together we can move mountains and shape worklives for ourselves, for each other and for future generations.

You can connect and join the conversation in so many ways. The People Who Know community is nudging people to take charge of their own Worklife by creating a Marketplace and Network so people can find a valuable place that supports them to adapt and balance their way. Our vibrant community is supporting people wherever they are in their Worklife journey.

We are also committed to offering digital space to providers of services who have dedicated their work to enable people to thrive in the workplace. We are also proud to offer free space in our marketplace to sponsor independant and smaller providers who need a boost as they are starting and trying to grow their presence. 

If you would like to become a member so you can network with passionate people and leading thinkers for free click here

If you would like to provide services to the world of work and feature in our Worklife Services marketplace for free click here 





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