Navigating Life's Unknowns As A Possibilitarian

Navigating Life's Unknowns As A Possibilitarian

Today, change is the name of the game, and we need to keep looking for possibilities.

Once upon a time, a shoe manufacturer looking for market expansion sent two salesmen to Africa to look at the market potential there. These two salesmen went to different countries in Africa and analysed the local market situation.


After completing the analysis, they reported to the head office. The first man reported that the place had no potential since people there didn’t wear shoes. The second man was very excited. He called his boss and said, “This is such an amazing place for our business. This place has huge potential for shoes since no one wears any shoes here. We can become pioneers and capture the whole market, and I will lead this project.”


The second salesman was a ‘possibilitarian’. He was able to see possibilities where the first one couldn’t.


In the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain Complex, Ambiguous) world we live in, change is the only constant, and we need to keep looking for possibilities. The meaning of possibility is to make things happen. When COVID struck, many people found it difficult to make ends meet, while for some, it became the best time for their businesses and careers as they were able to explore all the possibilities.


Though people face different challenges and only they know their situation, I’ve realised that many times in life, when I change my outlook on a problem, it changes shape too.


I remember my childhood days: As an extreme introvert – having studied in a small village in a vernacular medium, my confidence was at ground zero. I would be scared of even responding to the roll call by the class teacher. I avoided uttering a word because of the fear of being mocked for my poor communication skills.


There was a time when I would always be scared of tomorrow. I lived in that state for a very long time, allowing the fear of the unknown to rule over me. I constantly fought an inner battle to overcome this state. Then, the realisation set in that I can fight these challenges by tapping into my spiritual gifts and intrinsic abilities, and I started exploring the possibilities. This attitude helped me focus my energies on creating the future rather than dwelling on the past and my limitations.


To provide a simple way of remembering how to become a possibilitarian, I’ve captured the key tactics in the acronym SAY:


 • S – Practice Self-Leadership


• A – Develop Your Adaptability Quotient


• Y – Leverage the Power of Yet


1. Self-Leadership


Self-leadership means directing our feelings, actions, thinking, and behaviour towards our objectives. Peter Drucker said, “Being a self-leader is to serve as chief, captain, or CEO of one’s own life.” If we don’t take charge of our own lives, no one else will. Taking charge includes investment in the self by having mentors and continuously learning, even if the organisation does not sponsor these.


In my opinion, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-growth are crucial for self-leadership. It sounds funny, but many of us don’t know ourselves enough. This was never taught to us in schools and colleges. We were always consumed by thinking, behaving, and acting like successful people and missed looking inwards. Feedback, self-reflection, psychometric tools, and journaling have helped me understand myself better.


Likewise, self-belief is vital to having a possibilitarian attitude. Self-belief is impacted by our self-talk and the stories we tell ourselves. In order to convert any negative beliefs to positive ones, we need to evaluate our thoughts and beliefs, validate them against facts, and convert them into positive beliefs. We must have unconditional self-regard. If we don’t respect ourselves, how can we expect others to do it?


Another important aspect of self-leadership is self-compassion. Remember, no one can pour from an empty cup. Hence, take care of yourself first. We must remind ourselves that self-care and compassion are not selfish.


2. Adaptability Quotient


When my generation entered the workforce, employers were concerned about IQ (Intelligence Quotient). A few years down the line, we realised that IQ helped us reach our goal; however, to move forward, we needed to rely on the power of EQ (Emotional Quotient), so we shifted our focus to that. But that was not the end of it. In today’s fast-changing environment, one of the most important parameters is AQ (Adaptability Quotient).


Today, change is the name of the game, and adaptability is the only winning strategy. AQ involves knowing what is relevant today, unlearning obsolete information and skills, having the capacity to adapt to new situations, and the resilience to bounce back. It is measured by our own capacity to thrive in an environment of ambiguity and continuous change.


Adaptability makes one extremely valuable at the workplace since not everybody can embrace constant change. It also helps us bounce back, which is crucial in our personal and professional lives. According to LinkedIn, Adaptability was number 4 amongst the top 5 most in-demand soft skills in 2020. In a survey of 150 C-suite leaders, adaptability was noted as one of the top 5 skills employees need to master to succeed in the future.


Now that AQ’s importance is well-established, here are a few ways to master it:


• Unlearning old skills, like forgetting crawling after walking


• Taking risks and learning from successes, failures, and mistakes


• Having a childlike curiosity and an open mind to learn from everyone – one must work on increasing CQ (Curiosity Quotient)


3. A “Yet” Mindset


A “mindset” implies the attitudes held by us. It is our mindset that determines whether we are bogged down by challenges or view them as opportunities. Society plays a vital role in shaping our mindset. We are always told the smartest one wins, and hence we busy ourselves looking smarter and better than others and avoiding mistakes.


For a very long time, I lived my life with a fixed mindset: I wouldn’t try anything new, thinking I would look like a fool. Shame and fear of failure stopped me from taking risks and exploring. However, the exposure to the concept of a growth mindset changed my thought process, and I realised the power of YET. For example, I am not good at something YET, but I can become better with effort and practice. Or, I need not worry about failures and setbacks since they are there to help me learn more, and a win or loss does not decide my worth. Once I learned this and stopped worrying about “looking smart,” my energies were spent in learning and creating more possibilities.



Gauri Das is an engineer turned HR Professional with a keen interest in human psychology. She is a strategic HR leader with 15+ years of experience in developing and aligning HR strategy with business goals. She is a possibilitarian who works with business leaders and individuals to drive performance and improve capabilities.


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