Breaking with Identity to Seize the Adaptation Advantage

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished,” psychologist Dan Gilbert famously observed in a 2014 TED Talk viewed by more than 4.5 million people.

It's in that space, between work in progress and finished, that workers find themselves today. We are incredibly well prepared for the past, and woefully unready for a future of work that has yet to be defined. This in-between space can be—and is—unnerving when the future is so difficult to see. “Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago,” Gilbert says, “but we find it hard to imagine who we're going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it's hard to imagine, it's not likely to happen. When people say, ‘I can't imagine that,’ they're usually talking about their own lack of imagination, and not about the unlikelihood of the event that they're describing.”1

But change is happening, and happening at a rate that is only getting faster. The good news is that we can change, too. And while that might seem like a scary proposition, it's important to realize that we are already very, very good at changing. Again, from Gilbert's TED Talk: “The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting, and as temporary, as all the people you've ever been.”

Read that again: As all the people you've ever been. There is hidden wisdom in Gilbert's assurance, a wisdom that finds itself at the heart of this book. Each of those “people ...

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