8 Ways to Stay Relevant, Expand Your Skills, and Thrive
In her book The Future and Its Enemies, Virginia Postrel classifies people as either stasists or dynamists. Stasists resist change and try to tightly manage it. Dynamists, on the other hand, embrace change. They see the future as wide open and teeming with possibility. Which of the two are you?
I ask because nothing is as constant as change. Think back to the time you entered the job market. It doesn’t matter if that was five years or five decades ago. Name the industry, and it has experienced significant churn.
More is on the way.
Threats or Opportunities?
Pundits, consultants, and strategists are always trying to forecast what’s coming down the pike—especially this time of year. It’s impossible to miss predictions about automation, the freelance economy, Big Data, and AI in our social media feeds and favorite news sources.
Innovation, competition, and other factors converge to drive change faster and faster.
But the real question isn’t whether all the predictions will prove true. Some will, some won’t. The real question is whether you see possible changes as threats or opportunities.
It’s about balancing risk, though perhaps not in the way you might think. Of the two positions—stasism or dynamism—the second seems riskier, right? Only if we can count on things staying the same. But we can’t.
Hoping against change is hopeless. We end up fighting against our own personal growth and professional development. Just as bad, we make ourselves obsolete in an environment that depends on flexibility, creativity, and momentum.
The real risky position is assuming you can stay in one position. That assumption was never foolproof. Now it’s just foolish. Beyond that, while the comfort zone might be comfortable for a while, it’s rarely fulfilling.
8 Ways to Thrive
So how do we shift from stasis to dynamism? Here are eight ways to win in today’s constantly changing marketplace:
- Stay curious. Postrel’s stasist/dynamist distinction is really about mindset. People who cannot imagine learning and growing are just wrapping an iron chain around their ankles. To thrive in today’s environment, keep asking questions and poking around the next corner.
- Read more books. I don’t care how many books you’ve read, there’s always another to shed new light on an old subject—or introduce you to something totally fresh. Find books in or near your area of expertise—and some outside it. Don’t have time to read? Try audiobooks. To get you started, here are the five best business books I read last year.
Listen to podcasts. Another easy way to stimulate great thinking is through podcasts. I regularly listen to several. Like audiobooks, podcasts allow us to explore and learn at our own convenience. They also allow us to connect with very specialized information.
Attend webinars and conferences. There are tons of actionable insights to be found at good conferences—whether digital or analog. I regularly tune into webinars, and I’ve learned a lot over the years from seminars and other conferences. Tony Robbins’ Business Mastery event is one of my favorites. Here are my recommendations for maximizing your next conference experience.
Take courses. Whatever your level of education, there’s always more to learn. You can go back to school or learn online. You can study anything from design and photography to medieval history through companies like Lynda, Creative Live, and The Great Courses.
Hire a coach. The above examples are all about getting new input. But even the most specialized are still for a wide audience, not you particularly. Getting specialized, one-on-one coaching can be a huge help. I’ve used coaches for years—not only for business, but also fitness goals.
Join a mastermind. Mastermind groups not only provide specialized feedback for your business, hearing about the struggles and successes of your peers will trigger breakthrough thinking for yourself. What if you don’t have a mastermind to join? Consider starting one yourself.
Meet new people. Our peer group determines a lot about the success we experience. Negative friends will keep you down, while positive friends can keep you moving forward. More than that, our range of opportunities are often set by the reach of our professional network.
There’s no such thing as standing still. The real question in today’s economy is what direction we’re heading. We’re either pushing forward or drifting backward. I choose going forward.
What about you?
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