A couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article about how Uber has essentially almost pulverized the New York City taxi industry. If you speak to any cabbie these days, you know that they realize their days are numbered. And, even Uber drivers understand that they will lose their jobs once the government and private industry have the opportunity to make driverless cars scalable.
Every day there’s an article about artificial intelligence and the advancements in technology. There’s fear, particularly with older workers, who wonder if they’ll have the chance to retire before the business landscape changes so significantly that they won’t have a job and will be considered too old to be retrained. Some countries have already started to test the idea of a basic living income as they look ahead at the displacement of significant amounts of the population from the workforce.
Be the Water
Change can be very scary for some people, especially as you begin to get older and more set in your ways. However, it doesn’t have to be. In Eastern traditions, there’s a thought about being like a bamboo tree, which can bend with the winds, as opposed to a brittle tree branch. There’s also a famous video of Bruce Lee who aside from being a master martial artist was also somewhat of a philosopher who said, you have to become the water. Still, change is not always easy, and it’s just more apparent and significant now.
The Future is Now
In today’s world, it’s essential for everyone to take stock of what they can do now and into the future. The reality is that in many ways, the future is now. Let’s take, for instance, artificial intelligence. Not too long ago, I called a company for service and low and behold, I realized that I was in the process of engaging with a bot. The experience, candidly, was frustrating because I wanted to speak to a live person quickly but the bot would not allow me to proceed and because I didn’t want to play with it, it eventually hung up on me. I was a client, so that’s not the right way to treat your customers. But, artificial intelligence today teaches itself.
Artificial Intelligence Is Learning
Despite the experience, I know that artificial intelligence is infinitely smart and faster than humans and I expect that maybe as early as this year, when I call that company again, the bot will be much more focused on customer service and I will have a seamless experience, never once speaking to a human. As much as we are in a debate about immigrants taking jobs, a lot of the reality is technology is driving business productivity as evidenced in the car, energy and retail industries. It’s also happening in traditionally white collar jobs such as medicine and law.
Adapting to Change
One of the essential skills all humans now have to have is to adapt to change–quickly. So, how can you develop these skills so you can thrive in the digital age?
- Keep learning: There’s a lot to learn. Keep learning. Immerse yourself in tech. The excuse that you’re too old to learn technology does not suffice in the digital age. You have no choice but to learn it. So keep ahead of your peers, especially in business, and learn as much about technology as you can.
- Stay confident: Play “connect the dots” a little and see how much you’ve been able to overcome in the past. Have confidence in yourself that you can successfully evolve and adapt to change. The most important part of change comes from your attitude and how you think of your abilities.
- See the future: Knowledge is power. Make it a point to read a lot about the societal changes that are happening, including your career. If you know, for instance, that you work in a field that is losing jobs quickly to technology, start thinking about how you can retrain or learn new skills–and then do it.
- Stay outside your comfort zone: People who have a fear of flying are encouraged to get on a plane as often as they can. The more you face your fears, the less significant they become. If you want to develop your skills for change, then put yourself in situations that are always forcing you outside of your comfort zone.
- Never give up: Challenges are a part of life and reinvention is part of it in the digital age. Keep moving forward one small step at a time. And, even when the chips are down, don’t give up. Keep chipping away and seeing how you can overcome the obstacles.