There are upsides to this pandemic. Like realising how resourceful, capable and proactive you can be whilst, at the same time, dealing with high anxiety, turbulence and stress. In fact, you’ve told us that you’re coping better at the moment than your boss.
Through our research at iOpener over the past half year, we’ve seen impressive and consistent proof-points that you are behaving in a proactive way, at work as well as in life in general. In psychological terms, this is referred to as agency. Importantly, it shows your ability to step up when the going gets tough and proves your sense of hope that the future will turn out to be fine. And that you can play a vital role in creating this future when you put your mind to it.
Having had more time at home and with close family, it’s natural that you’ve been re-examining your values. Your drive for agency has been bolstered by questions like, “What do I want …”
… from life?
… from my career?
… to do differently / better / more of / less of?
Perhaps it’s the media’s persistent reporting on COVID-19, pummelling you with daily reminders about the possibility of death, causing you to ponder the notion of dying. Dying well means living well first. It means achieving your potential. And so, you’re working out what achieving your potential is to you.
Your agentic personality
Your ‘agentic personality’, as studied by Jim Côté at the University of Western Ontario, is defined as four interrelated traits:
- a sense of life purpose
- an internal locus of control
We’ve asked you to tell us about your agentic behaviors in several ways over the past months, through our flagship iPPQ (wellbeing and resilience) survey and our monthly QiS (Quick iOpener Survey). All four traits of your agentic personality show up in the collected data.
Here’s what you’ve told us:
- 64% of you consider yourselves to be highly resilient and only 4% of you consider yourselves low in resilience
- 25% of you have been feeling more resilient during the pandemic and 32% of you the same as usual
- 46% of you enjoy facing challenges, with a further 46% saying you do sometimes, not always. Only 7% of you report that you don’t enjoy facing challenges at all.
- 98% of you say that when things need doing you tend to be self-reliant
- 67% of you believe that you can influence events around you either a lot of the time or at least more times than not. Only 6% of you don’t believe you have this ability.
- 64% of you believe that, during the pandemic months, you have been able to be as focussed on task at work as usual, if not more.
When asked about the impact of the pandemic on your work life, you match the number of negative items with positive items. And, this is even though 94% of you say you’re currently experiencing personal, professional or a combination of both types of challenges. 22% of you say that your current challenges are overwhelming.
You grow through adversity
What we’re witnessing is your growth through adversity. For example, in terms of assessing your own resilience, you report it’s 79%. But you put your boss’s ability to cope at the moment at just 71%. The gap has been slowly widening as the pandemic stretches on. Your growing confidence in your ability to take control, face challenges and influence events around you is, you believe, superior to your boss’s ability to cope right now.
Research carried out by Oliver Tuscher, presented at the University of Mainz in Germany last month, shows that this time of chaos has in fact been a time of calm and connection for many of you. And this reinforces research findings collected by Anthony Mancini at Pace University documenting numerous cases of “positive gains from adversity”. Mancini explains that stress and trauma don’t always have to knock you back. With adequate and apt support as well as the right resources around you, one in ten will thrive during adversity, reminding us of the incredible human capacity to cope and grow as a result of, not just in spite of, stress and trauma.
Your agentic behaviours pave the way to flourishing
Professor Thomas Bateman who studies proactivity at the University of Virginia places agency as an important stepping stone on the journey to human flourishing.
Further developing Maslow’s 1940’s Hierarchy of Needs to reflect modern day realities, Bateman puts security at the base of his pyramid, to encompass your financial security, medical security, social security, geographical security and more. Above security come your motives of social communion and agency. Communion meaning your need for love, belonging and social identity. And agency being your individuation, towards which you grow your competence and control to bridge short term accomplishments to long term achievement.
At the pinnacle of the hierarchy is human flourishing. Bateman considers six components of flourishing:
- Physical and mental health, including self-acceptance and life satisfaction
- Purpose in life
- Character and virtue
- Positive social relationships
- Autonomy and environmental mastery e.g. feeling competent and in control
- Personal growth
Proactivity, says Bateman, “is the superpower that you can and should want to develop”. It’s core to a style of leadership that makes a positive impact on the world. A leader who is proactive, “sees problems and tackles them; see opportunities and pursues them; creates positive change.”
You’re taking big life decisions
You’re leveraging your agentic choice when it comes to big life decisions. Right now, our QiS scores about whether you’re considering moving house or relocating tell us that one third of you are. And, similarly, one third of you are also considering changing your job, your career or taking retirement earlier than planned because of the pandemic.
And, even though two thirds of you tell us that the pandemic months have affected your mental health, and your aggregated mean score for anxiety levels scoring 6 out of 10 (where 1 is lowest, and 10 is highest), you still score 8 out of 10 on the question that you are hopeful that the future will turn out to be fine. That’s because being proactive is yielding results for you. It encourages you to keep growing, beyond self-development and self-transcendence, to flourishing.
by Katie Demain
For more information on iOpener’s Growing Personal and Organizational Resilience workshop, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To take part in this month’s QiS on “Navigating Uncertainty and Unpredictability“, you can do that here, It’s completely anonymous and simply help us to keep bang up-to-date with how people are coping during Coronavirus times. We publish the aggregated results and we write about our insights.
And to get your own 9-page individual wellbeing and resilience report, please register for a link to the iPPQ here: iPPQ registration It’ll take you 20 seconds to register, and you’ll receive your link to the iPPQ within one working day.