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From COVID-19, to the social justice movement, to the presidential campaign, we’ve been thrust into a time of uncertainty like never before. I hear colleagues and friends say they are having a difficult time finding their footing. They feel unprepared in jobs they once mastered.

Facing constant shifts at work and in life, I’ve concluded that there is no such thing as footing anymore! I’ve learned to put all of my assumptions to rest. We’ve been taught to look to past events to gain insight and direction for the future. Since we don’t have any comparable events to glean from the past for our present-day existence, how do we proceed?

Openness is a Survival Trait

We should approach the future with openness. Being open is being prepared.

Important traits for surviving our new norm include agility, responsiveness, emotional resilience, the ability to build collaborative relationships, change management, and openness.

Openness is one of the Big Five personality theory psychological traits, also known as the OCEAN model. The other four personality traits of the Big Five are conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism ― hence, the acronym OCEAN for the first letter of each trait.

People who tend to be high in the trait of openness are more willing to embrace new things, fresh ideas, and novel experiences, pursue new experiences and adventures, and think about making connections between different concepts and ideas. Openness strongly correlates to creativity, which is a trait desperately needed for our current times.

Trying New Things Makes Surviving Our New Norm Easier

Research has also found that individuals scoring higher on openness are generally more willing to seek out new information and are faster to adapt to changing situations. I can’t think of a time when there has been this amount of change in a short time frame. Since social distancing, we’ve all been forced to change our everyday routines.

Like you, I’ve tried so many new activities. I’ve tried biking, hiking, baking, video production, and editing. By adding new variety in my daily tasks, it’s helped me to adapt to the changes. Now that I’m more open to new experiences, and am enjoying them, I don’t long for my pre-COVID-19 existence as much.

Expert Advice on Being Open to New Possibilities

Wondering how you rate with openness? Here is an informal self-report inventory that can give you an idea of how you measure on the openness trait.

Below are two suggested books, which are easy reads and very humorous, written by two women who set out to intentionally remove mental barriers and opened their lives to new possibilities.

Activities to Help You Be More Innovative

For activities to share with your teams during virtual meetings, you may also want to check out our innovation toolkit and energizers where you will find activities like Challenge Framing, Assumption Busting, Two Truths and a Lie, and Emoji Check-In. Another good energizer that encourages an open mindset is Fear in a Hat.

Want to know more about how we can help your team use innovation techniques to manage change more effectively and build better relationships? Contact us.