How Far Can You See?
The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
Alan Kay, Author and Futurist
We can’t predict the future but we may be able to gain insight on how the future unfolds.
The US Navy Wargaming Institute
I recently saw a New York Times article about robotics and the impact it could have on human jobs. The gist of the article touches on the fear that many workplace tasks in the near future will be automated and put people out of work. The author however, does not believe that will be the case. I think the author is correct, but the unspoken lesson in this article cuts to the heart of being a Critical Doer and it revolves around either changing the times or the times changing you.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said “the only constant is change”…and he is correct. History is rife with examples of negative outcomes that occur from failing to recognize that time moves on. From nation states that fail to adapt to changing strategic environments, to sports stars that stay around longer than their skills, to products that lose touch with the times, to families that don’t adapt to kids and parents transitioning through the seasons of life…the way to win is to recognize the inevitability of change and remake the environment before it remakes you and limits your opportunities for achievement.
Case in point…being a dad is a great joy for me, and every minute I’ve spent raising my children has been a privilege. I would have been a happy man if I could have frozen time at a point where all of them still lived at home and depended upon me. But each has grown up into an extraordinary adult, and my choice was to either take on the futile effort of preventing that from happening or parent in a different way that enables them to achieve on their own. The former is a losing proposition for everyone, the latter puts three incredible people into the world and I get to be a part of it. I didn’t become obsolete as a parent, but I had to learn to parent differently to stay relevant.
The same mental calculus happens in the world of work. The article on robotics is the classic struggle between the comfort of the familiar and the challenge of change. The lesson is that those who learn to work in robotics or to embrace the inevitable progress that happens in any business will still be productive and successful while those who try to hold back the hands of time will be left behind.
As we draw closer to a new year, it’s a great time to do some reflective thinking on where you need to embrace rather than resist inevitable change in order to be relevant. Like the workers in the article, we all face the same battle for relevance as change occurs. Learn now to be open-minded to changing environments and adapt in time to shape the future rather than be shaped by it. It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!
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