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A Sample Chapter of Stop Playing Safe by Margie Warrell

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Getting ahead in an accelerating world

While there are many things you need to do in order to succeed in a fast-changing world, I think there are three core skills you must commit to in order to adapt to change.

Together, these core skills will set you up to succeed in a future that you’re unable to predict but can be certain will be different from where you are now (as illustrated in figure 5.1).

  • Learn to unlearn: be open-minded. Be ready to unlearn and let go of old rules and assumptions about how things work and what’s possible.
  • Think: be flexible. Stretch yourself to adapt to change and be ready to yield to the wind and try new approaches.
  • Act: be proactive. Change before you have to, by preparing for future changes, and be open to embracing the new

Learn to unlearn: be open-minded

Early in 2012, after more than 10 years of living in the United States, my family and I returned to live in Melbourne, a city that I’d lived in for only one year over the previous 17 (and that was the year my first child was born, so my memories are encased in a sleep-deprived fog). As I soon discovered, my mental maps of Melbourne’s road system, good cafés, restaurants and shopping centres were in dire need of an update. While I’d kept my old Melway street directory from the 1990s I quickly realised I needn’t have bothered. Not only was my Melway woefully out of date for many parts of the city—which had transformed from industrial wastelands into vibrant urban centres—but several new, big toll roads, complete with tunnels and bridges, had been built, totally changing the routes around the city.

Thank God for the satellite navigation system in my new car! Needless to say, from driving on the other side of the road to enrolling my kids in new school systems and sports, since arriving back in Melbourne I’ve had to do a lot of learning, but I’ve had to do even more ‘unlearning’ in order to undergo the required ‘relearning’. I could never have learned how to navigate around the city had I kept relying on my mental maps or my old street directory. I had to donate the latter to the recycling bin and declare myself a novice navigator before I could once again become a competent one. I’m pleased to say that I can now make my way to the airport without any wrong turns (on a good day!).

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