Re-Braining for 2020
Bill Cottringer

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ~Albert Einstein.

2020 brings a new decade of Information Age challenges, requiring some major transformational re-braining to navigate the mine fields ahead hidden away in the plethora of information overload, which is growing exponentially. Here are the ten new main brain skills needed to succeed in the coming decade:

1. Mental Flexibility.

My best friend reminded me of this important mental attribute long ago in the eighties, but it seems to be resurfacing all around me lately. What my friend said to me was in the form of a question—" If you can’t keep an open mind, are you sure you have one?” Today, mental flexibility (open mind) is the sure road to success, whereas mental inflexibility (closed-mind) is a sure dead-end road to failure. Rubber-band-like thinking and mental stretching is the skill to have in this next decade.

2. Change Management.

By now most us have accepted the dictum of “change or be changed” but there are few of us left who still try to swim upstream like salmon coming home to spawn. Adaptability to change ahead of us will be of the radical and fast and furious variety requiring astute skills at prioritizing and managing the changes that have the vastest consequences over the long-haul. Changes ahead will require extreme adaptability and a suspension of judgment.

3. Moral Expertise.

Given the many more moral choices we have today, there is more room for costly mistakes that have dire consequences. More than ever, it is urgent for us each to contemplate the value of solid moral principles such as the “Golden Rule” so we can continue taking the high-road ethics and endure a few short-term pains for the benefit of the long-term gains. But we all know that knowing the right thing to do is easy, but doing it is the hard part. Never-the-less it is the way to be in 2020.

4. Intuition.

There is simply too much information to read and think about these days to make the quick decisions to act on which is often required. Moving forward, we will have to rely on the semi-conscious intuitive impressions we get in our guts to attract desirable outcomes and avoid disastrous ones. This will require many of us to develop our intuitive abilities and the only way to do that is to listen to the inner voice, follow-it, track results and make course corrections accordingly.

5. Win-win Mentality.

The information Age has transformed the basic win-lose, competitive mental paradigm to a win-win, cooperation one. This transformation brings about the compromise imperative, where smart awareness of viable compromises between opposing goals yield the most gains and least losses for everyone involved. This takes a very open mind free of assumptions and preconceived notions and critical thinking through development of all these other new mental skills. It will mainly involved debunking the scarcity mentality and replacing it with an abundance mentality.

6. Noise Reduction.

Our main object in plowing through the expanding information age is to sort the few valuable truths from the overwhelming, useless fiction. This focus requires growing sensitivity to all the contaminating “noise” inside and outside of our heads, which clouds the truth. Given that our mere participation in an event, even as a passive witness, contributes to the outcome, separating ourselves from the truth quest is no easy matter. Just being aware of the pervasive presence of annoying “noise” today is a good start.

7. Coachability.

The real key to success in the future is to be totally committed to be a perpetual student of growth and personal development in becoming our best self by being open to being coached to this end by life and others. To get to this type of open mind, requires us to question the utility and validity of all that we think we know and realizing it may not be so, to make more room to learn what we need to in order to be more successful. Being coachable is one of the easiest and quickest paths to success as Michael Jordan demonstrated par excellence.

8. Team Intelligence.

Nothing much gets done by individuals today as teams rule. This is because teams afford the necessary diversity of values and creative approaches to solve the most perplexing problems emerging from the Information Age. Team intelligence involves smart thinking, interdependence of team members, and two-way communication without defensiveness, e.g. conveying acceptance, honesty, empathy, equality and freedom as opposed to judgment, manipulation, insensitivity, superiority and control.

9. Clock Mastery.

We all have a shortage of life’s most valuable resource—time. But guess what? We all have all the time there is to either manage it or be managed by it. Given the current information age overload and being in the recurring position of having too much to do and too little time to do it, the challenge is to become a master of the clock to the point of being able to get twice as much done in half the time, without costly mistakes. Simply put, this requires more action than thought, and tuning out distracting “noise.”

10. Balance.

Usually the safest and healthiest place to be is in the middle ground with temperance and moderation. Of course, there are a few either-or’s still left to defend with your life and it is essential to know the difference between opportunity and danger before the point of no return comes and goes. Balance is most important in the particular perspective from which you look at something, to allow you to see ahead and behind and up and below as well as right and left.
“Often times success doesn't come from strength, but from flexibility and adaptability” ~Debasish Mridha, M.D.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D., Certified Homeland Security (CHS) level III, is Executive Vice-president for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security Patrol, Inc., in Bellevue, Washington, sport psychologist, and adjunct professor in criminal justice at Northwest University. He is author of several business and self-development books, including You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, ‘P’ Point Management, Reality Repair, Reality Repair RX, Thoughts on Happiness, Pearls of Wisdom: A Smart Dog’s Tale. He can be reached at 425-652-8067 or