‘Learn, Unlearn and Relearn’ – Educating Your Future Self – Part 2

May 17, 2017 Vinod Kumar

I was recently honoured to give a commencement speech to management graduates, reflecting on how traditional ideas around careers and work are changing. In part 1, I explored the importance of keeping an open mind and constantly learning from what’s around you. Here, we look inwards, at how you can shape yourself in a rapidly changing world.  

When you look back at the path your career has taken, it can seem that life often has its own plan for you.

It was certainly like that for me: I started out with intention of doing international marketing in FMCG, but ended up as an engineer in an international business, along the way working across a huge range of roles in the technology space. Whatever route you try to take, fate often throws you in a totally different direction; a key part of keeping yourself happy and successful is learning how to take these changes in your stride, and turning them to your advantage.

As we explored in part 1 of this blog, it is crucial to keep learning, wherever you can. As hard as it can be to accept it, change is the best teacher, whether that change comes from the choices you make or from the world around you.

One big change we will all be facing soon is the ubiquity and pervasiveness of AI and machine learning. This will have an enormous, disruptive impact in nearly all aspects of work; indeed, many are experiencing this disruption already. While the prospect of change on this scale can be daunting, it can also be an opportunity to change yourself for the better. In your work, you could look to embrace the automation, and in doing so expand the judgement based, human interaction-dependent and creative components of your job.   Look at how these technology can augment rather than replace your intelligence.

It is estimated that 35-40% of work that is done in most industries can be automated. And if it can be automated, the Darwinian nature of business means it almost certainly will be automated, and sooner than we think. Change is unavoidable, so why not try and gain a head-start and develop the parts of your job that make you – a human – indispensable?

In a world where such revolutionary change seems to be just around the corner, the urge to rush to match it can be overwhelming. Paradoxically, the best way to cope with such a changeable world can be to seek personal stability.

To deal with a world that is moving unpredictably, you need to resist the urge to rush, and instead act with deliberation. You may have heard the term ‘VUCA’, which stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Given how quickly the world is changing at the moment, it’s a good acronym to sum up the times we live in. To balance this, each of us needs to find something that allows us to create inner space. This space can then give us the chance to absorb what is happening around us, while cutting through the clutter and chaos of a VUCA world.

How you choose to create this calm and peace is up to you; it may be in the form of meditation, prayer, or some other technique. But make no mistake, as the world speeds up, this tranquillity and clarity will be crucial to your success and happiness.  Sometimes, to move forwards, you need to take a moment to stand still and not end up in a VUCA state yourself.

To read more about Vinod’s thoughts on the changing world of work, see his full range of blog posts here.

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