Do You Know Your Adaptability Quotient?

Butterfly adaptation to environment color

Yesterday I was clever and wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.  — Rumi

William Stern was a German psychologist and philosopher. Born in 1871, he is known for the development of personalistic psychology. An emerging social science at the time, it examined measurable personality traits and the interaction of those qualities within each person. Stern is also credited for coining the term Intelligence Quotient in 1912. Commonly known as IQ, it is often the subject of debate among scholars and practitioners as they continually strive to correlate it with individual success.

During Stern’s lifetime, other psychologists worked on ways to qualitatively assess individual differences and distill them into one formula. Stern cautioned against the use of this assessment as the sole way to categorize intelligence. He believed traits, such as intelligence, are complex in nature with no easy way to qualitatively compare one person to another.

While we may never know if Stern intended to expand on his definition of IQ, we are grateful that social psychologists in the 1990s developed an additional intelligence metric called Emotional Intelligence. Referred to as EQ, it is the ability to understand, use, and manage our emotions in positive ways in order to relieve stress, communicate effectively, and empathize with others. It is also a tool to help us face challenges, overcome obstacles, and defuse conflict. While there are many ways to measure it, the most common methods use a 4-point scale divided into Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.

To our good fortune, the science continues to evolve. As we try to better understand ourselves and tap into the best of what we offer the world, there is another Q worth examining. The Adaptability Quotient, or AQ, has taken center stage. As we consider how we work, live, and relate to one another, 2020 may be marked as “The Year the World Learned to Adapt.” When you integrate global social disruption with extraordinary advances in technology, we are in an era with an unprecedented rate of change.

In a variety of fields, leaders constantly reevaluate and rethink how to respond to the physical and social consequences of the global pandemic. In business, the most innovative trailblazers adapt quickly to changing circumstances and work to stay relevant in such an unpredictable global crisis.

Loosely defined as the ability to adapt and thrive in a fast-changing environment, AQ is a companion to established assessments like IQ and EQ. When it comes to hiring its next crop of employees, the business publication Talent Economy asserts that AQ could become as important as IQ or EQ.

Many of my corporate clients say the skills required for most jobs are evolving rapidly, but our education and training systems are lagging behind. A PWC Study on Adaptability says that employers will require adaptable personnel, many of whom are not currently in the right roles, to safeguard against future threats to their business.

The traits most likely associated with AQ are open-mindedness, actively seeking new opportunities, and continually investing in personal and professional development. I encourage you not to shy away from change, but rather to confront the new reality head on. Striving to lead lives of happiness, prosperity, and success requires a commitment to self-discovery and some AQ education.

 

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