Employees today are faced with the paradox of dealing with high workloads and time pressures while at the same time having to learn new skills to grow in their jobs. Learning agility is the key diﬀerentiator and is considered as the critical indicator of future performance. Learning agility refers to both a) the willingness and capability to learn new competencies, and b) the ability to assimilate and transfer information within and across situations. How agile one is in turn depends on one’s experience, self-awareness, and ability to perceive and deal with diﬀerent situations.
The good news is that it is possible to cultivate and enhance one’s learning agility through the following:
Breaking free from habitual patterns of thoughts and behaviors
Avoiding tunnel vision by developing multiple perspectives and fully engaging with the situation, irrespective of however pleasant or unpleasant it might be.
What is ‘being mindful’ mean and where does it ﬁt in?
Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to the present moment, in a non-defensive, non-reactive and non-judgmental manner and is a useful tool to enhance one’s learning agility. It is an ability to focus on the ‘NOW’ and calm down the mind that is racing through the laundry list of tasks to get through. Mindfulness too is a cultivable quality, with both formal and informal practices available for the same.
Mindfulness improves cognitive skills such as concentration, decision-making, working memory capacity, and emotional skills such as resilience and equanimity, all of which are required to be learning agile.
Authentic communication, another feature of mindfulness practice enables better social cohesion, cooperation and knowledge sharing across virtual learning platforms.
Here’s what you can do to boost your learning agility ?
Practice any form of mindfulness meditation for atleast a few minutes every day – Focus on your breath.This basically calms down the racing mind and helps you pay attention to your own thoughts and emotions.
Use informal one minute meditations throughout your day. These are especially useful before starting a new task, and when switching between tasks of diﬀerent natures, such as a communication task like a meeting and a concentration task such as content development. An example meditation may be found here:
Train your mind to look past the obvious – some exercises include
Walk to a diﬀerent place in the oﬃce / home and intentionally look for 3-5 things you probably haven’t noticed before.
Choose a highly familiar object each day, such as TV remote control, milk packet, wall clock etc and identify three alternate uses for them.
Try and observe 3-5 new things about the people you live and work with.
Doing these exercises will not take more than 10-15 minutes everyday, pretty much the same time spent checking out Whatsapp statuses / Instagram stories. But these mindfulness exercises, although appear simple can go a long way in systematically honing one’s attention, concentration and emotional balance. These helps getting rid of negative emotions and promote parallel and creative thinking, all of which help you stay learning agile in an ever uncertain and fast-changing world.
About the Author
Roﬁa Ramesh, is a joint PhD scholar of IIT Madras, India and Curtin University, Australia. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology. Roﬁa is also a mindfulness and meditation practitioner and trainer. After her initial training in mindfulness in the Vipassana tradition, she has further extended her mindfulness toolkit with an internationally validated Complementary Medical Association (CMA) approved meditation and mindfulness teacher certiﬁcation from the School of Positive Transformation. She is a strong believer that our choices deﬁne our success, happiness, and authentic functioning. She also oﬀers tailor-made mindfulness practice programs to optimize individual decision-making, communications, and well-being. Reach her at roﬁaramesh@gmail.com