“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” – Tom Goodwin, TechCrunch
According to the World Bank’s 2016 World Development report, nearly two thirds of currently existing jobs in the developing world are technologically susceptible to automation, a number that drops slightly below 60% for OECD countries according to the 2016 Citi/Oxford study ‘Technology at Work v2.0’. Many jobs which exist today such as App Developer, Uber Driver, Social Media Manager, Drone operator, Big data analyst or Sustainability manager did not exist just ten years ago.
A typical day in the life of internet in 2015 included 8.8 billion Youtube videos, 207 billion emails sent, 152 million Skype calls, 803 million tweets and 4.2 billion Google searches. Bernard Marr, a Forbes contributor states that “more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race.” Some estimate that 3-5 billion new consumers will come online until 2025.
The disruptive world we live in, powered by the explosion of exponentially growing technologies which compound and magnify each other leaves us often gasping for air as the pace of change escapes our ability to comprehend it. AI, Robotics, 3D printing, sharing and gig economies, exponential organisations, nanotech, biotech, quantum computing, bitcoin, blockchain and fin tech – just to name a few. Reshaping industries, business, politics, governments, civil society and entrepreneurship as we know it.
But what does this mean for you? How do you navigate the exponential times ahead? And most importantly, what can you do today to build your capacity to surf the ever-elusive waves of an unpredictable future?
Based on my 10 years experience of working with over 2,000 people in more than 30 countries, I recommend to focus on the following 6 dimensions:
- Mindset: The exponential trends mentioned above require us to make sense of the world in increasingly nuanced ways. Simplifying the growing complexity and finding your own way through the maze is more important than ever before. New businesses and entire industries are founded on original insights into seemingly saturated markets. Competitive battles are won through combining the existing elements in unique and unpredictable ways. Being able to consciously focus your attention where it matters, following your curiosity and intuition and developing increasingly effective ways to make sense of the world is the first dimension to pay attention to.
- Emotional Intelligence: The ability to build trust, connect on a human level and inspire collaboration serves as a foundation to increase your impact and build scale, whether you work in a large organisation, belong to a network of freelancers or manage your own start-up. Developing empathy and emotional intelligence, increasing your ability to relate to a diverse range of people and building strong networks and communities is a second dimension of success.
- Vitality: Our bodies are assaulted daily by thousands of potential harmful substances. Our energy and attention is progressively drained away by the growing demands of modern life. There is a strong link between what happens in your body and your ability to meet the demands of the modern world. What you eat, whether you exercise, how long you sleep, how often you rest – these are only few choices we all make daily. The healthier the body, the more vitality you possess and the more capable you are to materialise your visions into existence. Your ability to be in a high-performance state, maintain resilience and increase your vitality is the third dimension to focus on.
- Ethics: How do you know which of the thousands of decisions you make every day are the important ones? In the relativistic world where traditional guidance systems appear obsolete, how do you decide between right and wrong? Your ability to discern the right path forward in any situation and your courage and persistence to choose this path over and over despite challenges and set backs is the fourth success factor to thrive in an exponential world.
- Purpose: Why are you here? How do you make sense of your own existence? What is the legacy you want to be remembered for? Hard questions? Perhaps. Yet, if you do not find your own answers your life will be determined by the answers of others. Your ability to relate to the deepest questions of your own existence is the last dimension to work on.
- Flow: All the above dimensions can only be brought to life if you find a way to be fully your best self in the critical moments when it matters. Managing own state and achieving ‘flow’ in your activities will ensure you can bring your purpose and qualities to the everyday decisions, choices and actions that you take en route to your destination.
Paying attention to the above mentioned 6 dimensions, transferring the discovered insights into repeatable practices and over time, developing powerful and consistent new habits to bring these to life will increase your capacity to navigate the unpredictable waters ahead.