By Kevin Cashman; originally posted to his Forbes blog, Pause Point on December 28, 2018.
Although it may be true that we can’t “step into the same river twice,” as Heraclitis said, once we step in, we are part of that river’s flow. Since birth, we have been swept up in a raging, constantly changing never-ending flow of experience. Sometimes we love the flow of life, sometimes we hate it and resist it. But because the flow of the river is constant, we have no choice in the matter. We have to change. It is part of the price of admission to life. Every moment our cells are changing; our thoughts are changing; our emotions are changing; our relationships, our marketplace, our finances. Change is endless and relentless.
We have no choice in the matter except for one aspect—accelerating our growth through change by adapting and learning. Most leadership research illustrates that as we go up the executive ladder, we need to become increasingly comfortable with uncertainty and sudden change. As leaders, we have to have the “integrative ability” to weave together and make sense of apparently disjoined pieces, crafting novel and innovative solutions. At the same time, we need to have the self-confidence to make decisions on the spot, even in the absence of compelling, complete data. The qualities needed at the top—courage, openness, authentic listening, adaptability—also indicate that leaders need to be comfortable with and able to embrace the “grayness” that comes from multiple points of view coming at us at once. In other words, we have to master our adaptability mentally, emotionally, strategically, and interpersonally.