COGNITIVE flexibility may not rank as high as complex problem solving or emotional intelligence in the World Economic Forum report ‘The Future of Jobs’, but it remains a significant skill to have in order to compete in the global digital economy.
It is defined as our ability to shift our thinking between several ideas or context due to our response and adaptation to new stimuli.
Being cognitively flexible is key to our personal and professional growth because it enables us to keep an open mind, take risks, consider various viewpoints, and learn effectively, thus supporting other vital soft skills such as critical thinking, decision-making, and creativity.
To improve and maintain your level of cognitive flexibility, not only do you need to make sure to keep your brain active, you also have to give it sufficient rest so that your mental capabilities function well on a daily basis.
This can be done through activities that let you gain new experiences and information, challenge your beliefs and perceptions, and apply knowledge and skills in whatever you do.
However, before you start working on enhancing your cognitive flexibility, you need to know if you are cognitively inflexible.
One indication that suggests cognitive inflexibility is if you find it hard to adapt, because you are unable to adjust your thoughts to new perspectives and you are already set in your own ways.
You might then have a difficulty, for example, in having effective discussions with people of different cultures and outlooks.
Your level of cognitive flexibility might also be low if you have trouble solving problems.
This could be the case, if you are not exposed to new concepts, or are afraid to experiment with methods that you have never tried before to solve a problem.
If you tend to take the easy way out, you might be considered cognitively inflexible.
In this case, while you may find it convenient to rely on a Global Positioning System (GPS) during your drive or use a calculator to do calculations at all times, it doesn’t help your brain to stay active.
And believe it or not, always keeping to your routine without any tweaks – whether because you fear the unknown or you don’t want to waste time – might be hindering your efforts to improve your cognitive flexibility.
These are just some of many behaviours and attitude that might prevent you from being cognitively flexible.
Identify those that have been holding you back, and overcome them so that you can be mentally strong and be successful in life.
This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.