Self-Management through Uncertain Periods

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self management in uncertainty

Looking back to 2020, what we will remember is that it was a year full of uncertainty and fear, a time when we were forced to learn new skills while working hard to survive personally and professionally.

However, I prefer remembering the great opportunities we had during the year. A year full of self-awareness, when we realized the importance of self-management in our lives and emotional intelligence was even more important than before.  

Previously, we discussed self-control, trustworthiness and consciousness. In this article, I will reflect and present the theory behind the last three components of self-management: adaptability, achievement orientation and initiative.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Adaptability is not just about changing to adjust to a new situation. It includes making changes to a course of action quickly, without major setbacks, and learning from the process.

When thinking of adaptability, it is important to consider:

Intellectual flexibility is when you can integrate new information and draw conclusions from it, moving from the details to the big picture in an agile way.

Receptivity is being able to respond with a positive attitude to new challenges and willingness to learn from new people. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Creativity is actively seeking new ways of doing things and having the confidence to improvise or experiment along the way.

Behavior modification is adjusting your work style or approach method to meet the objectives. Some people are naturally adaptable - in fact, they thrive on change as much as they can.

READ: Self-Management and Its Impact in Leadership

We cannot talk about adaptability without understanding flexibility and the connection between both concepts. Some authors define three kinds of flexibly that can help you to change and to adapt:

Cognitive flexibility - incorporating different thinking strategies and mental structures into planning, decision making and daily work. They can simultaneously have multiple scenarios in mind and can see when its crucial to change. It indicates agility and divergent thinking.

Emotional flexibility - the ability to vary a person's approach to dealing with emotions. An emotionally flexible professional is comfortable with the transition process. When we are promoting a change, it will require emotional flexibility to move ahead and quickly adapt.  

Dispositional flexibility - the ability to remain optimistic and, at the same time, realistic. This involves recognizing a bad situation, but at the same time envisioning a better future. These people are not blindly positive, nor pessimistic and defeatist.

When you are open to learn and practice new behaviors that increase your flexibility, you will become more adaptable and, in turn, you will support others to adapt as well.

Achievement Orientation and Initiative

It is when a person has the drive and desire to accomplish goals, aiming to be successful. These individuals are always motivated to improve their work and be more efficient. They work hard to achieve their goals, want to see results and do better than others.

However, achievement orientation alone does not mean we will achieve our goals. It also requires initiative to move forward with our plans. Initiative is our ability to take the lead, with promptness and readiness.

Following, the theory of Positive Intelligence developed by Shirzad Chamine, our mind operates in two ways: one positive (wise) and the other negative (saboteurs). The "Wise" side understands challenges as opportunities, producing curiosity and empathy, as examples. On the other way, the "Saboteurs" side causes stress, anxiety, insecurity and unhappiness.

READ: The Building Blocks of Accurate Self-Assessment 

One of the saboteurs described by Chamine is the hyper-achiever. Usually professionals with high level of achievement orientation are extremely competitive as a way to cover up insecurities.

For the hyper-achiever, self-validation, self-acceptance and self-love are all conditional - conditioned to continuous performance and big achievements. There is a belief that they will be loved if they perform tasks and obey the rules, etc., rather than unconditionally.

To avoid this pitfall, you need to focus on your plans and motivations. Challenge and compete against yourself only. As you have probably heard many times, “choose to be the best version of yourself.”

Facing Crisis and Hardship

Moments of crisis require a high level of self-management, because we have to see beyond the difficulties. As an example, look no further than the COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020:

As the population of all countries was insecure and extremely concerned, local Governments that showed trustworthiness were more effective in building collective consciousness in their countries and were able to lead their countries through the crisis.

At the same time, people that demonstrated self-control and adaptability, were the ones that reacted faster to the problem. Their initiative, to take the lead and handle the situation and their achievement orientation made them work hard to continuously find a solution that could benefit themselves and others.

By mastering self-management, it will not only benefit yourself, but also the ones around you. It is the starting point for improving the way you build social skills and how you interact with others.

HR and Future of Work - 3rd Annual Online Event

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