Okay, that title may be a little over the top. So how about “Change Or Become Obsolete”?
The world is changing. So is work. No ‘ah-ha’ statements there. As the pace of change quickens and as technology becomes even more entrenched in life, the implications for work and jobs can be frightening. Consider the following titles from a seemingly endless supply of articles regarding the future of work:
One in three jobs will be taken by software or robots by 2025
We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does
Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
- MIT Technology Review
Since we can’t stop change or the advancement of technology, we’re left with just one option, change ourselves.
For most people, change is difficult, even scary. We’re comfortable where we are. We like our routine. However, if we continue with routine for too long, we may wake up one day and be obsolete.
So we must take steps to avoid our obsoleteness. We must update our skills. Learn new things. And while the following steps may not prevent our job (driverless cars may even make Uber drivers obsolete!) or our industry from disappearing, they may help us accept and even thrive in our always changing, sometimes chaotic world.
Accept the reality: Maybe easier said than done, but accepting the fact that nothing remains the same is the first step to staying relevant. You can’t change the weather and you can’t change the continuous, forward advancement of technology. But you can change how you react to our changing world.
Become a futurist: To thrive in our volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous – also known as VUCA – world, you need to anticipate the future. You know your world is changing but where are those changes taking you? To predict the future you’ll need to do some research and be open to learning new things. So after binge watching the latest season of House of Cards, read a book about the particular industry you’re in. Google your specific job to see where it might be headed. Stay on top of trends and current events.
Build a network: This is probably the most important step in staying relevant. Surround yourself with interesting individuals. Meet lots of people across a wide range of titles, industries, and backgrounds. People are a great source of knowledge and some of these people will be instrumental in helping you reinvent yourself in a new job or even industry. And the best way to get help? Be helpful yourself! Always be enthusiastic to give away your knowledge and expertise and be eager to connect people in your network.
Be open to advice: That network you’re building? Ask for opinions about how you can remain relevant in today’s workforce. And when they throw out seemingly crazy ideas or offer you constructive criticism, LISTEN! They may see things that you don’t.
Be flexible: Be open to new work, responsibilities, job titles, and even locations if life permits such a move. While you may be a VP in your current role, moving to a new industry may require a small step backward in job title. Remember, the job title isn’t important. It does not define you. It’s the actual work that matters!
Change is hard for most people. But if we remain stagnant, if we stay complacent and choose to ignore the change that’s all around us, the world will pass us by.
British philosopher Alan Watts provides some good wisdom for dealing with change:
“The only way to make sense out of change is to
plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
So look ahead! Jump in! And see where the dance takes you.
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.