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Commentary: Apart from a 'growth' mindset, youth also need a 'reinvent' mindset to thrive at work

For many, it would feel like life in the last two years had come to a standstill, with the repeated circuit breakers and borders closed.

Writer Adeline Tiah at a fireside chat during the launch of her book Reinvent 4.0 on Nov 15, 2022, in Singapore.

Writer Adeline Tiah at a fireside chat during the launch of her book Reinvent 4.0 on Nov 15, 2022, in Singapore.

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For many, it would feel like life in the last two years had come to a standstill, with different restrictions to curb the pandemic and borders closed.

But the paradox is that many things around us have actually accelerated.

We saw that Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation in organisations. Many were fast-tracking their efforts to reskill their existing staff. Inflation has accelerated. And even in the last quarter, we saw many job cuts.

If we take a step back and reflect, change is no longer constant. It is exponential. Let’s look at some trends.

In the 1960s, many companies on Standard & Poor (S&P) 500 remained on the list for about 60 years.

During those days, the average lifespan was 50 years. Business cycles exceeded one’s lifespan so lifelong employment in one organisation was very common.

Today, the average lifespan of a company on S&P is only 20 years. And the average life expectancy is 71 years in the world.

In Singapore, the total life expectancy is 83.2 years according to the World Health Organization’s data published in 2020.

What does this mean for the Gen Zs and Gen Ys?

They now not only have to work longer (to finance their retirement), but will also likely experience many disruptions in their career and life.

In a world characterised by rapid change, we can’t predict what the future will look like.

As individuals, we need to shift away from our old ways of thinking and equip ourselves with the mindset to navigate whatever the changes might be and come out from each inflection point stronger.

Lifelong employment is no longer relevant. The professionals today need to equip themselves with the right skills and mindset to achieve lifelong employability.

SHIFT FROM A GROWTH MINDSET TO A REINVENT MINDSET

A "growth" mindset is important. But in a fast-changing landscape, we need to embrace a "reinvent" mindset to thrive. It is a mindset of high agility, curiosity and the willingness to take strategic risks.

The "reinvent" mindset is especially relevant to individuals between 22 and 40 years old — the generation rising to lead organisations in the next decade. 

As we count down to a new year, let me share with you some lessons I have learnt and why it is important for us to embrace a mindset of permanent reinvention to be “undisruptable”.  

EMBRACE AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET

We don’t need to be an entrepreneur to think like one.

Agility is a hallmark of an entrepreneurial mindset. It helps you become more resourceful, flexible and ready to adapt, regardless of what the current situation is like.

Entrepreneurs are nimble; they invest in themselves. They build their professional networks. They take intelligent risks. They make uncertainty and volatility work to their advantage.

As professionals, when seeking out job opportunities, we can no longer just look at a job description.

We need to put on an entrepreneurial mindset to understand what problems we can solve and what value we can bring to the organisation.

We are not paid according to how hard we work but how hard we are to replace in order to solve the problem.

BUILD YOUR NETWORK

In an increasingly socially connected world, your network plays an important role in advancing your career — either direct recruitment, job referrals or even giving you knowledge of a new industry.

In the future of work, who you know is what you know. Investing in social capital is not about increasing your network, but spending time to nurture meaningful relationships.

I have benefited from my breadth of network. When I first got myself certified as a coach, I was seeking out opportunities to practise. Then the power of networking shows up.

A fellow mentor at a mentoring social enterprise recommended me to a role where I could practise and get paid. 

Another person whom I met from a women’s network referred me to a speaking engagement at a public event.

Prior to that, I provided her with coaching tools to help her facilitate a team building workshop.

Networking is a two-way street. Relationships are living, breathing things. Feed, nurture and care about them, and they will grow.

INVEST IN YOUR NEXT TRAJECTORY

Our lives will no longer be linear. In the age of longevity, the three-stage life — study, work and retire — is irrelevant.

Our lives will be cyclical as disruptions will result in many inflection points.

To avoid disruptions, we need to embrace a mindset of permanent reinvention. “Climbing the corporate ladder” will make way for a winding and non-linear career path, skills will have short shelf lives and we need to continually learn new skills.

To ensure that your lives stay on the trajectory of increasing success (as defined by you), your goal is to become a master of change rather than a victim of change. 

Hence it is important that you keep abreast of emerging trends and develop in-demand skills to position yourself for your next move.

Today’s long-term career planning is not about knowing exactly where you will be in the future.

There is too much uncertainty, unpredictability and change to make specific future plans.

However, if you build a career that continually expands your experience, skills base and network of connections, then it doesn’t matter exactly what changes you will face.

You will have the agility, flexibility and adaptability to meet those changes, and build a career and life that make sense for you.

If 2020 to 2022 were years of unplanned reinvention because of unexpected disruptions, then 2023 is when it gets intentional because we all know that changes are happening at a staggering speed.

Start embracing a “reinvent” mindset and stay agile.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adeline Tiah is an adjunct lecturer at the Singapore University of Social Sciences School of Business. She is also the author of “REINVENT 4.0 – The Keys to Unlock Success and Thrive in Uncertainty”.

Related topics

Covid-19 growth mindset Gen Z Gen Y

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