I have been enjoying an hour of reading each morning before work, and Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late is my latest fare. It is a fascinating book that addresses the many different types of accelerations that we are experiencing in the world right now, and how we had best conceptualize and cope with them in order to survive and thrive.
One thing that Friedman makes very clear, and that other writers are echoing, is that our assumptions, the things that we have always taken for granted and have counted on to be eternal, have started to erode. We have always assumed that if we played our cards right, kept our noses clean, and played by the rules, that life would turn out pretty well for us. We were always told that if we worked hard, went to school, got an advanced degree and met the right people, we would land that nice job with benefits in a company that was too big to fail and that would see our careers through until we could take a retirement package that would let us ride softly and gently into the sunset of old age.
The world is changing. Rapidly. Fundamentally.
Previous assumptions do not hold true any longer. Previous plans, tried and true, that everybody followed, do not work. Traditional training, preparation and thinking that used to get us firmly attached in industry and the world of work now provide little except for artificial trappings that say what we should know and what we should be able to do.
Tradition, once the bedrock of our predictable lives, is changing faster than most of us can keep up.
This is the age of You 2.0, or maybe even 3.0.
You are now the startup. You are the company of one that is making the pitch out in the world. You are the one trying to convince someone important that you have the knowledge, skills, training and flexibility to perform, to produce.
There is now the need not only for a specific amount of schooling and training, but for continuous learning throughout your working lifetime. Finite training and degrees, static and sterile, are entering a phase of obsolescence. Continuous self assessment, pivoting to meet the current needs, retraining and skill acquisition are the watchwords of You 2.0.
You must not only be prepared and properly trained, but you must have fully developed emotional intelligence, the skills necessary to handle groups of people, exemplary communication skills, and flexibility. You must be willing and able to turn on a dime, to meet new challenges and take on new projects that in years past you would have thought were out of your league. Continuous self assessment will be your watchword, and adaptation and skills acquisition will be your goals.
As Friedman said in a previous book, the world is flat. It is also fast and furious, changing at the speed of Moore’s Law and then some.
Those of us who are overwhelmed by this rapid change will fade away, some fast, some slowly.
Those who embrace change, who thirst for knowledge and who adapt to different landscapes and environments will be successful and drive the next wave and the next and the next.
You 2.0 will look nothing like the prototype.
Then again, did we really expect it to?