What's around the corner? - Michelle Gibbings

Every day, news sources share stories about predictions and new studies about the future. Some of these stories are positive, others negative; some will arise, and others will not. It’s often a challenge to know what to pay heed to and what to ignore.

 For example, this week, Forrester shared insights that automation will strip out approximately 1.5m jobs from the local economy. Last year, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report concluded that technology-driven job creation would outpace job destruction (over the next five years); however, the economic contraction will stall job growth.

Reading such reports can leave you with the impression that everything is changing. And yet, in many situations, change is slow. As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos notes:

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next ten years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next ten years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.” 

So, where do you need to focus? It’s a challenging question to answer because when there is a plethora of information, data, reports, and conflicting studies, you can easily get lost in the fog. As noted economist Herbert A. Simon concluded, “….information consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Likewise, predictions are fraught with danger, as there are times when they are based on flawed assumptions.

Of course, this is not to suggest that you shouldn’t look ahead, nor think about what’s around the corner to prepare yourself. For example, in the context of your career, it’s helpful to understand how your profession and industry might change in the years to come.

However, it’s more important is to be flexible, resilient and adaptable, so you are ready for whatever comes next, even when that future is unpredictable. Embracing a future-readiness approach contains several core elements:

Don’t hold on too tight – Learning to love change is a life skill where you have a general direction as to where you wish to head but are not holding on so tight to a fixed outcome that you let other opportunities pass by unnoticed.

Know your value proposition – Everyone brings specific skills and ways of operating to the work they do. It’s critical to be clear on this value and to be able to articulate how what you do help other people/organisations. You also need to keep this value current.

Find your learning edge – Continuing career success requires a constant desire to learn. Don’t play safe, instead seek new ways of working, experiment with different concepts and explore emerging ideas.

Build deep relationships – good relationships take time, which means that every investment of energy and all interaction matters. The world is small and connected.

Ditch the busy-ness – Avoid the trap of being ‘busy’ on things that don’t matter. Instead, get ‘busy’ on purpose. Look at your day, and drill into how you spend your time.

Balance the short and long term  Life involves trade-offs all the time. Be careful you aren’t always sacrificing long term gain for short term satisfaction (and vice versa).

Cultivate your bounce-back mentality – There are times when things don’t go to plan, and having a mindset where you grow through the challenge is essential. Find the learning, rather than focusing on the disappointment.

As you step each day into an unknown future, consider the worlds of the famous writer, George Eliot, who said – “It is never too late to be what you might have been”.  

For me, that’s one of the most fantastic things about life; that each new day offers the chance for something new.

Michelle Gibbings is bringing back the happy to workplace culture. The author of three books, and a global keynote speaker, she’s on a mission to help leaders, teams and organisations create successful workplaces – where people thrive and progress is accelerated.