Are you cog­ni­tively flex­i­ble?

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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 Za­manMansang(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.

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