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We have always been told that good thinking is the result of reading books.
However, you can't only rely on what you know in unexpected situations. You need adaptive thinking to survive.
Adaptive thinking is the ability to recognize unexpected situations, quickly consider various possible responses, and decide on the best one. It is the ability to be logical at high speed.
The US Navy fighter pilots were taking significant losses during the Vietnam War. This inspired the creation of the now-famous Top Gun school, which focused extensively on failing and learning from that failure. The Top Gun school taught fighters to act fast in a dangerous environment with many unknowns.
Another everyday example of adaptive thinking is talking to a client. A situation can quickly evolve and throw you off balance. For example, a person asks a question you don't know the answer to. Or the conversation gets heated, and your script no longer works.
Employing the power of adaptive thinking requires work and open-mindedness. The biggest hurdle that will prevent you from having a good response is not allowing your mind to wander.
To become prolific in your thinking, you need to acquire these 3 components:
Plan in advance how you envision a task. For example, if you need to talk with a new client, write down everything you need to become successful. Think about all the details and imagine doing the task in your head.
Runners do this before every race. They mentally go through the race and ask what will happen.
The best form of planning is having a plan if things fail. But, more importantly, have a backup plan on your backup plan.
Prepare for the things that can possibly go wrong to reduce the chances of failure and increase the likelihood of survival.
Regardless of how carefully you plan for things that could go wrong, things will inevitably go wrong.
There is something called emotional hijacking: It means that your emotions block your ability to think.
Anger, fear, even positive sensation disable our ability to think clearly. When things go wrong, calmness is your best friend.
Developing adaptive thinking is not improving it. We also need a plan to further foster our adaptive thinking skills.
The Top Gun academy turned out to be a great success because they built a library of case studies. Their air training sessions were recorded and later observed by the entire crew so that everyone knew how to respond to different situations.
The skills that make a professional successful are not based on how well they know the information in textbooks but how they can handle situations based on their years of experience.
Adaptive thinking is changing your usual behaviour quickly in response to an unexpected situation.
A simple strategy to follow:
Become comfortable with uncomfortable situations. Understand that you can never fully prepare and there will always be something you don't know how to do.
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