Photo Credit: Bethany Legg, Unsplash.com
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET
With the advent of the internet, the rate of speed by which change occurs has increased exponentially, leaving many feeling overwhelmed and confused.
It’s an interesting world we live in. People have access to far more information than they ever had before…instantaneously. We’ve the opportunity to communicate with people all over the world, travel wherever we want, and shop from the comfort of our homes. In fact, we can get groceries from home, food from drones, and attend social functions online with people from just about anywhere.
We have cars that drive themselves, humanist robots providing customer service in some retail stores, and virtual assistants that help us do our work. Change is all around us and it’s happening at break-neck speed.
I love technology! I love all that it provides, and without it, I believe opportunities to help people (physically, financially, socially, medically) would have been negatively impacted. Let’s face it. Technology has saved countless lives.
However, to what extent is the advancement of technology just too much?
What are the social, moral, physical, and ethical implications of all of these advancements on human beings?
Is there a line where we say enough’s enough?
Let’s take a look at a simple timeline.
Yeah, it might seem a little boring, but understand this: the first and second industrial revolution occurred over a combined period of roughly 200 years. No doubt, there was also turbulence for people during the shift from the first to the second revolution. BUT…people had time to learn, adapt, and change.
If you look at the third industrial revolution, the time for adaptation and change is significantly less…by 70 years. AND…we’ve now entered into the fourth revolution where artificial intelligence, big data, robotics and more’s working its way into mainstream society. With so little time to adapt, it’s no wonder people are struggling at work and in their personal lives.
THE STORY OF ONE EMPLOYEE
Let’s talk about John.
John was born in 1956. He was raised in a middle class family. His mom stayed home and raised John and his two siblings while his dad worked in a foundry, building auto engines for a popular car company. When John was 18, he graduated high school and began working in the same auto factory as his father. In his mind, he was set for life. He had his job and a certain stability that, like his father, he too would retire from the factory.
Except he didn’t. Little by little, jobs began to be replaced by machines. Work began to be outsourced. Computers were doing the jobs that many people used to do and the certain stability that was once experienced was no longer a reality. John didn’t end up retiring from that auto company. The factory actually closed and moved to Mexico where labor was cheaper and automation did the lion’s share of the work.
Needing to feed his family, John had to find other employment and unfortunately, he really struggled. He just didn’t have the skills required to be easily employed. So he settled for a lower income retail job, where his supervisor is half his age, and he needed continual assistance at the computerized cash till to make a sale. John, once a competent and proud man, is now bitter, feels incompetent, and is fearful about what the future holds for him and his family.
A LEADERSHIP STORY
She was born in 1968. She grew up during the 1970s– a time where change began to really shape the social and economical climate. Jane was exceptionally well-educated, well-spoken, and well-written. She began her career writing for a small town local newspaper.
Jane was noticed for her talent, her tenacity, and her ability to communicate with others in a way that others just didn’t have the skill to do. On the recommendation of her boss, she left that small town newspaper job for a big time city newspaper that was read, not just by the locals, but across the nation. She was taken under the wing of a senior editor, and before long, Jane became a junior editor for this major news source.
Jane was being groomed to be the next Chief and Editor of the paper– but it never happened. Social media exploded on scene. Fewer and fewer people were buying papers, and the pressure for change in the industry was becoming overwhelming. Communication through social media was far different than what Jane had ever experienced. Jane was struggling to lead new young talent with technological skills while trying to increase her own skills and those of the existing employees of the paper.
At times, the pressure was so much that Jane had some unpleasant meltdowns at work which got her into some trouble. She was constantly putting out fires between older workers and the newer employees and she was downright exhausted. Eventually, Jane just broke down. She retired early from her dream job so that she could take care of her health and return to a small town paper to do some part-time writing.
Yes, these are just stories, but they represent some of the complex issues presented during coaching sessions that I’ve had with clients. The issues around identity, confidence, intergenerational gaps in the workforce, problem-solving within teams, and overwhelming stress are all real issues being experienced by real people every day. Many of these problems and more will continue to increase — as the rate of change doesn’t seem to be on the decline for the foreseeable future.
WHERE’S THE OPPORTUNITY?
Yet, there’s hope.
What researchers such as Dr. Daniel Goleman, Dr. Helen Riess, Dr. John Meyer and others have concluded is that we need to develop the skills to be emotionally, physically, and mentally agile. That’s to say, we need the skills such as: emotional awareness, self-control, empathy, optimism, and adaptability not only to be able to handle, but gracefully thrive in spite of the challenges that are presented to us societally, socially, economically, or personally.
Sound hard? Maybe…but it doesn’t have to be. Shifting your perspective, looking for opportunities, and perhaps challenging some of your beliefs are good places to start. Hiring a professional coach can certainly assist you in setting the goals you want to achieve and helping you see them through to success.
In my opinion, every human being has value, regardless of the revolution in which they were born. What’s important is that as leaders, you gain the critical skillset you need to lead in changing times and then coach, mentor, and teach employees how to find their value, demonstrate their talents, and feel supported.
It’s how businesses will survive and people will thrive in revolution 4.0.