They call these skills “Forever skills”, and have detailed how they work in their 2019 book Forever Skills: The 12 Skills to Futureproof Yourself, Your Team and Your Kids.
Flanagan and Gregory are the strategic and creative team behind a number of successful new product launches, and have helped entrepreneurs build internationally successful businesses and worked with some of the world’s most influential organisations.
Below, Flanagan and Gregory share a small sample from the book, covering what they describe as the creative skill of agility, the communication skill of Influence and the control skill of self-control.
Check out more how-to content covering leadership, influence, finance and more over at our new section, The Thought Leaders Hub.
Creative Skill: Agility
Despite the many clichés surrounding Darwin’s work, it is not the strongest who survive, but rather the most adaptable. Resilience is not trying a failed strategy repeatedly, but rather trying a new approach with optimism.
Layne Beachley is an eight-time world champion surfer. It would be fair to call Layne a living legend. When we sat down to talk with Layne, she outlined her belief in the importance of adaptability and agility in high performance. She shared with us the story of getting to number two in the world and then having to relearn one of the most basic skills in surfing: how to stand up on her board!
The way I was doing it enabled me to reach number two but it wasn’t going to get me to number one, and I wanted to be number one! It meant I had to relearn something I had been doing since I started surfing as a 4 year old. To achieve that, I had to practice jumping to my feet prior to every surf and every competitive heat for a whole year!
Extreme? Perhaps, but that willingness to relearn and create something new is a creative agility skill that many high achievers and great leaders have in common.
Being more agile includes thinking of resilience as mental agility, imagining an alternative framework or universe, pushing beyond ‘The Obvious Barrier’ and challenging your own assumptions. It’s also good to develop multiple senses of awareness.
Communication Skill: Influence
Ideas without influence are impotent. Whether you’re a leader looking to create buy-in with your team, a sales or marketing team wanting to sell products or services, a change agent with a cause you want to champion in your community or a parent trying to get your kids to do pretty much anything you want them to, influence is a critical Forever Skill and to futureproof your career.
Of course, influence has always been important. Throughout history, an ability to inspire others with your ideas, to persuade them of your usefulness and garner their support has been a critical factor for success in even the smallest societal and organisational groupings.
Influence allows us to negotiate a deal on our terms, mould opinions, make social change, and build businesses and organisations that generate commercial and social value. What’s more, the importance of influence will only increase in the future as the volume of choice, information and options continues to grow.
Rarely does the best win. It is far more likely to be the most influential. Relying on facts rather than influence can actually be counterproductive.
If you can’t engage, you really can’t lead. The main steps for increasing your influence include knowing what you’re really ‘selling’. aligning your value with their values, demonstrating who you help them to be and developing your emotional intelligence. It’s also critical to share your ideas, values and instructions through stories.
Control Skills: self-control
In the end, all we are really in control of is the realm of our own minds. In truth, all we can ever control is ourselves. Circumstances are ultimately less determinant of our results than our responses to them. A sense of control gives us focus and allows us to access our unique personal power to futureproof our careers.
An oft-repeated maxim has it that we need to ‘Play the cards we are dealt’. Another quote making the internet rounds states, You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.
Controlling ourselves is one of the key skills we need to master as, ultimately, we are responsible for our actions (independent of our feelings). We are the navigator, the driver and the captain. We choose our mindset.
Learning how to manage ourselves is one of life’s most essential skills and one we will always need. You can gain self-control if you develop your self-awareness, understand that your emotions are feedback (and not always accurate), choose your mindset consciously and control your focus. Critically, remember that you should focus only on being able to control the controllable.
Forever Skills is available in good books stores, and at Booktopia.