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Versatility in the 21st Century

Versatility has always been a desirable personal attribute. The ability to flex and adapt allows individuals to land on their feet like a cat being able to course correct when falling from a high place. In the past, versatility for the typical worker wasn’t as essential as following protocols and adhering to specific roles. The workplace was far more predictable than it is today. In the 21st century, versatility has become an essential skill.

Many factors are contributing to this shift include the gig economy, the accelerating pace of technological innovation, global interconnectedness and more! Even jobs that appear to be straightforward at first glance call on the individual to be agile. The question is, are we investing enough in people so they can thrive in this rapidly evolving world or are we focusing mainly on keeping up with technology that drives it?

Helping individuals become more versatile requires enhanced self-awareness. Do you know your strengths? What are your blind spots? What are your strategies to navigate the bumpy waters of the 21st century workplace? Who can you pair with to address the waves of workplace challenges?

As I have written in previous articles, self-awareness has several levels. If you skim along the surface of self-awareness, you are not likely to get the type of versatility that will allow you to thrive rather than survive in the 21st century workplace. Therefore it is essential that you invest the time in thinking about this so you can respond strategically rather than reflexively.

Not long ago, I attended a Learning and the Brain educational conference with my daughter who is a teacher. One of the keynote speakers, Yong Zhao, asserted that knowing who you are was far more essential to long-term success than trying to fit into a particular mold or role. While I think that has always been true, it’s particularly critical now. The need to be versatile is unavoidable in the 21st century and one of the best ways to arrive at that destination is by knowing yourself well.

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