The riskiest career choice of the future will be to have a single job. When we have a job, we not only have 100% of our cashflow linked to a single customer (employer), we see less of the changing world. For the best part of 200 years – craftspeople, artisans and farmers couldn’t compete against the industrialisation of pretty much anything. But we live in the generation, where all this is about to change. The best careers will become those of projecteers.
While no one really knows the exact technical skills we will need in the future, we do know that the world will be a very different place 10, 20 and 50 years from now. It might even be that for the first time in history we can’t specifically tell our children – that qualification XYZ, will hold them in good stead. The one thing that they, and we, will need for sure, is the ability to reinvent ourselves repeatedly through our working lives. This means that human based skills like emotional intelligence, anti-fragility, and adaptability will become increasingly important.
If we think about work, we have historically tied ourselves to titles. Often, the first question we get asked at a social gathering is what we do for a living. We psychologically link ourselves to that ‘thing’ we do to make money – and in some ways this makes it difficult for us to change direction. If traditionally we have built our economic identities like stone houses with very deep foundations, going forward it will make more sense to build economic identities like tents, that we can fold, pick up and move elsewhere. Even though we don’t know exactly where we will have to move, we know shifting constantly will be inevitable.
Then – Why has this person moved around so much? Are they unstable or incompetent?
Now – Why has this person been in the one place so long? Are they scared or incompetent?
By taking the ‘tent‘ approach, every move creates a new knowledge set. A new set of experiences created by the new environment itself. We’ll see new things and develop new ways to ‘set up the tent’. The mobility, invents the skill set. As a projecteer this is exactly what I do. Economically I change places almost everyday… it’s a weird and wonderful mix of different, yet related experiences. A keynote speech here, a c-suite strategy session there, a media interview the day after, startup mentoring and investing, a new book next year, and a hacker project or two on the side. Yet, I still maintain the single minded proposition of what I do: Experiment with emerging technology in business.
The breadth and variety of work we’ll do in the future, will be the thing that makes us more valuable to those who seek our services. The skill corporations, governments and communities will need in the future is flexibility of mind – not process efficiency.
If we’ve ever viewed our life as a movie we star in – then we all need to start thinking a lot more like big movie stars. People who will be in far more than a single blockbuster – but a large number of movies, some on the big screen, and some indy side projects. We’ll play a variety of different roles, in different movies, but each set we walk onto, we’ll bring with us what we learned on the previous gig.
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