“Raises are a relic.
Opportunity is the future.”
These are the words of my first business mentor that have been echoing in my mind for over a month now.
That’s because… I think he is right. While I was growing up, my Mother said it was very important for me to get a stable job with good benefits–and I did. I joined the US military, but seven years later I was back in the working world and the benefits I once had were lost. Even during my time in the military the benefits were dwindling–compared to those who served before me.
Little did I, or my Mother know how much was going to change in the modern career world. These changes came from three things:
1.) TECHNOLOGY – Technology changed the game and is moving faster than ever. The internet has specifically truly created a new environment for humans. Ideas and people are able to move at a never-before-seen pace.
2.) GLOBALISM – They say Japan is a lot closer now than it was 100 years ago–and I think they are right. I’ve made the trip a dozen or so times myself: and it takes less than a day to make it to the land of the Rising Sun. Can a more qualified candidate fill that high-paying job I just applied for? Even if he lives in China? Can he just telecommute in?
The answer to all three questions is “yes.”
3.) THE ECONOMY – Likely to earn myself some eye-rolls here, but its actually true that the economy took a hard down turn starting around 2010. One of my friends applied to 58 jobs, landed 2 interviews, and luckily–one job offer. Employers can no longer afford the awesome benefits, the company car, or even the nice Christmas party that Karen hasn’t stopped talking about since last year.
END OF THE INDUSTRIAL AGE
These are the problems introduced to ‘the old world.’ However, those problems are also opportunities in disguise. I’ve heard it many times said of the internet age (so many times that it’s become cliche): “There is more opportunity now than ever.”
That’s BECAUSE there are more problems. If one is wise, he knows that problems ARE opportunities.
The industrial age has ended, which has led to the internet or cyber era. Our problem, (or, opportunity), is that we are the unexpected trail blazers. History has carefully chosen us to usher in the new era, and it is our job to discover how to navigate the new world.
THE NEW WORLD
Here’s what we know about careerism in the new world:
1.) BRANCH OUT – One major issue we have is that we are truly more connected than ever. A single tweet can reach millions of people: even kings of the past didn’t have that opportunity. The problem is, when that ability isn’t harnessed we become stale, and in a world that changes hour by hour, stale means irrelevant.
To stay relevant we must connect to others, bridge new ideas, be more social. We need to discover how our current job translates into working with A.I.. We need to learn something new, get a security plus certificate, pick up playing guitar. Whatever it is, we need to grow.
2.) APPLY, APPLY, APPLY – Similar to branching out is applying to the new positions given to us by the new world. In modern times, workers will change 6-8 careers through their lives.
Get ahead of it. Apply to higher positions.
You’re going to get told ‘no’– A LOT, trust me, but when you do, ask “why?” Then fix it. Next time it’ll be a yes. But, you HAVE To put yourself out there. The one thing you can not do is nothing. Get on LinkedIn, facebook, twitter, whatever, and apply.
3.) FIND THE OBSTACLE – In Ryan Holiday’s book: The Obstacle is the Way, he points out that by trying to move through a problem, rather than around it, we discover new possibilities and systems. These systems in turn change our very fabric of understanding, and eventually our very being. They also lead to fantastic new careers and opportunities.
THINGS TO AVOID IN THE NEW WORLD
This is not to say that there aren’t new danger found in the modern era. There are actually quite a few, and some of them aren’t exactly the most advanced problems:
1.) COMPLACENCY – In the old world, you could sit at your work station and put the one cog that you are in charge of in it’s perfect place. The conveyor belt would then advance the next cog forward for you, and you would perfectly place that one, until you went home for the night. You’d clock in the next day and place cog after cog until yet another clock out. And you’d get paid week after week.
Today, the cogs change by the hour, the machines are capable of learning and cost companies less than you. They don’t ask for raises, bonuses or Christmas parties. You will have to rely on the one thing that separates man from machine: Adaptability.
Complacency is the opposite of adaptability, and machines are better at it anyway. To avoid being complacent, do something challenging and new as often as possible.
You were built for it.
2.) SELF DOUBT – When expanding as a person, or making a change, it is easy to fall victim to self doubt. Self doubt is that voice inside of your head reminding you of your past failures. It discourages you from doing anything great.
The good news is that the voice is easy to defeat: just give it a name. The name of my self-doubt is Terry, short for terrorist. Every time Terry starts talking in my head I just say, “SHUT UP TERRY!” and boom–he’s gone!
3.) ILLUSION OF NO OPPORTUNITY – You might think to yourself, “Self, I could branch out, but I don’t have any opportunity to right now.” Let’s not kid ourselves, there are 7.4 billion people the world and 27.9 million businesses just in the United States. Each person is trying to achieve something. If you help them in their quest for achievement, that’s an opportunity. Most businesses run on people, and are trying to grow–if you can help them do that, you’re hired. That’s 7.4 billion + 27.9 million opportunities right there.
How do you discover these opportunities? Ask.
Seriously, just ask anyone: “Is there a problem I can help you solve?” Ask recruiters, walk into businesses and talk to managers. Hit up CEOs on twitter. 7/10 times they will answer a well worded question back.
The new world is huge. It encompasses the old, physical world and the internet. There are so many choices and opportunities that it’s a stressor just to look at all of them. Instead of just searching for an opportunity–dive into what you love, soon the opportunity will find you.
After all, the teacher comes when the student is ready.