One of the most fashionable topic for the news media these days is around Automation, Skills and Job Loss. While there is as much talk about the job losses and skill gap, very less is discussed on WHY it happened in the first place. You cannot create a HOW without a deep understanding of the WHY.
Neither did the smarter machines came out of the blue nor did they take away all our jobs overnight. It was always in the making. Technology advancements in the field of Digitization, Internet, Cloud based services, Data Science and growing maturity of Artificial Intelligence triggered Automation which fundamentally changed the contours of value creation in large enterprises that were struggling for means to achieve operational efficiency.
In this context, imagine this scenario. May be you need not imagine and this could very well be yourself. I sure was one such.
You are the most sought after tech junkie at work. You know everything about your workplace, the application you support, your team, the people around you to navigate the maze of organisational politics and to get things done. You are known to the senior most leaders of your organization by first name.
Nice. Pat yourself on your back. You earned it all by your hard work. You deserve it for being so loyal to your workplace and to your job. You invested your life on your job.
Now, just take a moment to reflect on this.
When was the last time you really invested some time on yourself, on a regular basis?
By this, I really do not mean getting yourself pampered with the latest gizmos or fashion accessories or few rounds of golf and gourmet food. Those things are really important for the ‘feel good’ factor and to show off the presence of your physical self. And, these days we tend to overdo that part, because, that’s the easiest thing we can do to ourselves.
By investing time on yourself – I really meant the intellectual you.
You were a smart cookie at college. You were the aspiring one and your intellectual curiosity took you places and you learnt new stuff almost every day. Work soon caught up and your day started getting filled up with stuff that’s not necessarily in your control and most importantly intellectually least challenging. Meetings after meetings on multitude of things, talking the same gibberish again and again.
These are times when you hardly come across anyone who love what they do at work. If not for the stable monthly income to manage their livelihood, most would sit at home or do something better. Almost everyone is looking for that elusive ‘better’ job. And, damn it – the machines are only making matters worse!
But, here is the biggest irony. If we really mean to be somewhere else, shouldn’t we make the most fundamental thing required to overcome inertia – the effort required to move?
Unfortunately, movement in today’s scenario is the most challenging thing. While we stayed busy at work, the world around us has moved a lot further under our feet or moving at a faster pace than we can even understand. Hence, we seem to be stationary and to the utter dismay of ourselves, we often feel struck.
And, to make it worse, movement in today’s scenario is Hard.
You are competing with smarter people, fewer jobs in new technology areas and the Robots (both Hardware and Software forms) that are increasingly becoming adept at doing things and in a far more productive way.
The Hard skills of today – as they mean by their very name – are really Hard and they require Deep Work on a consistent basis.
They cannot be mastered by attending a 2 day workshop or seminars. The 2 day sessions are good for the people who deliver it to make some instant moolah. Not, good for the Deep Learning that is required to master some of the hard skills of today.
Here are some essential first steps you can try.
Don’t let the work expand itself to the time available. It always does, if you let it so. There are always meetings to attend and people to talk to.
Take the time off to Learn something new, every day. It can be anything that lets you make that next move or do your job better – Coding, Writing, Volunteering or most importantly – Teaching. The world is in dearth of Good Teachers and you would be surprised to know that you could be that one.
Learning is just one part of it. Don’t just be a consumer of things, try to create something new or to Teach someone.
Bottomline – never stop asking this question every day – Did I really invest some time on me today?