Taking Advantage of a Crisis to Position for Your Future

July 30, 2020

Catherine Gibson, VP-Client Engagement


“Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help you realize your potential.”
Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

 

This year can certainly be deemed more than being “a little crisis”:  2020 has thrown more things at most of us than any other year we’ve lived through, and we’re only just over halfway through it. While it’s hard not to be consumed by the chaos surrounding us, we should not be paralyzed into thinking that nothing good can come out of this year. In fact, I believe that periods of great uncertainty can be the catalyst to help us blaze the trail to adjust to our “new normal” by reinventing ourselves, capitalizing on our previous skills and experiences.

Throughout my life, I have found that in the periods of greatest uncertainties, my greatest transformations have occurred. Doors have opened that have brought new opportunities, jobs, people and experiences into my life. While it rarely feels good going through personal transformations, once you get through to the other side, you can see how the pieces fit together and frequently how the new trail provides better opportunities than before.

Change is a constant, whether it be in your personal life, your professional life, or for business in general. For example, in looking at the Fortune 500, almost 90% of the companies on the original list do not exist today, only 65 years later. And company lifespans are shrinking: the average age of an S&P 500 company is under 20 years, down from 60 years in the 1950s, according to Credit Suisse. And recent research by Innosight suggests that 50% of the current S&P 500 will disappear within the next 10 years.

The forthcoming “Fourth Industrial Revolution” will continue keeping heat on the pace of change in corporations and their employees around the world, due to the disruptive technologies and trends that are its hallmark – Including the Internet of Things, robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence – which are changing the way we live and work.

But instead of being fearful about how these new technologies will affect us, think about all the great things technology has enabled us to do. For example, technology has been a huge help in getting us through this tumultuous year: many of us can continue to work productively from our homes, we have more hours of entertainment available to us than we can ever consume and, while we’re trying to avoid contact with people in real life, we can communicate instantaneously with almost anyone in the world. Instead of being afraid of the disruption that new technologies will bring, we should instead be looking for the opportunities that they will provide to improve our lives and even create brand-new careers.

Consider how previous eras of change and technology advances have affected jobs available to us. We’ve all heard the 100-year old example of how the invention and adoption of the automobile disrupted the market for horse and buggy drivers, but in today’s world think about the vast amount of new job roles that have been created in only the past twenty years, including:

 

With advances in technology and changing customer needs, will your job still exist even 10 years from now? And if it does still exist, is it still what you’ll want to be doing, or do you think you’d rather try something new that doesn’t exist today? If so, what do you need to prepare for this career transformation?

Will you need an advanced degree, or professional certifications? Are there new experiences in the professional world that you’d like to try out that would give you new transferable skills, even doing pro bono work for a charity? And is now the time for you to relocate to preferred geography to take advantage of remote working?

As Jack Welch recommends “Change before you have to”. Think broadly about your future and what you’d like it to be. Almost nothing is impossible at this point. Look to your life beyond 2020 and figure out what can you do to springboard to the future YOU want to create?

So don’t be afraid of change all around you, because in the end change is the only constant, but growth is optional. Choose wisely.


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