While the world is still caught up in battling the corona crisis, it is time to start preparing ourselves for the jobs of the future. The current crisis shows us that we need to adapt fast to the changing environment. Artificial intelligence has already been breathing down our neck for some time now and it is important to be ahead of the wave.
Developing key skills
In the coming years, the marketplace will change significantly and many jobs that still exist now will surely disappear by 2030, just in 10 years’ time. Other new amazing professions will emerge.
I do not have a crystal ball to predict the future. Nevertheless, by looking closely into the current trends; work getting even more remote and technology taking over, here is my list of future proof strengths / skills we need to ride the wave of change instead of getting crushed underneath it.
After reviewing the list, I realised that they were predominantly related to two main areas – to our mental / thinking capacity and to our emotional / empathic capacity. Thus, I have divided the article into two parts. Part one relates to our mental capacities and the second one will discuss our emotional powers.
Strengths / skills related to our mental power
These are strengths and skills related to our mental power:
Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking
Although machines excel us when it comes to calculating difficult math equations, they are not capable of conceiving new concepts and creating new ideas or coming up with out-of-the-box solutions. So, invest in your creative skills.
I used to say to myself that I am not a creative person because I can’t paint nicely or sing, but having published a book all by myself last year, I have proven myself wrong. We are all creative in our own unique way. Identify your own creative powers and begin mastering them.
Complex problem solving
The problems of today’s world are not getting simpler. Actually, it is more to the contrary. In order to solve them, we need insight into how complex systems work, how they are intertwined and how we influence the rest by changing one component.
This requires stepping out of our own “fixed way of seeing things,” being flexible in thinking and having the mental capacity and elasticity to do so.
Want to start experimenting and see how flexible your way of thinking is? Start looking at the challenges you are involved in from various angles and perspectives, do not stay stuck in your own way of viewing things. We now know that our brain is able to learn and create new neuropathways continuously, but it needs us to be at the steering wheel to guide us in this direction.
Carol Dweck came with the “growth mindset” concept in her bestseller book: Mindset. People with a growth mindset believe that through their lifetime, they are able to develop and learn new skills and abilities. People with a fixed mindset believe they were born in a certain way and are convinced that they have very limited ability to change.
Our parents are / were living with the concept of having one career for a lifetime. My generation started to change that paradigm. All of my coaching clients want one thing, escape their current job and start a new one.
The generations entering the workforce right now need to realise that changing, not only jobs but whole career paths, will be a common thing, and not once or twice in a lifetime, but maybe even three or four times.
This could be dictated either from internal (following one’s passion) as well as external (rapidly changing environment) motivations. So, we will need to continuously learn new skills and adapt new knowledge.
Expats are used to the often-changing environment, and we all realise it is often easier said than done. Adapting takes time and effort. The corona crisis shows us how quickly we sometimes need to adapt to a rapid change.
I believe that in the coming years, constant change will be our daily reality and those who will embrace it will be the winners. On one hand, our brain is pushing us to change, through its inquisitive nature, on the other hand, it often pushes on the brakes when the change is perceived as threatening – as its main purpose is our survival. Being caught between those two powers of our brain means we need to learn to master them.
If you, like me, have troubles with embracing change, start practising it now. You can start doing by changing small, insignificant things, like your route to the office, school or supermarket. You need to be continuously training your brain to adapt to change. You do not start preparing for a marathon by running the entire distance, you start by running around the block.
Technology and analytical skills
With the technological revolution at the end of the previous century, we can see that tech continues to accelerate at a high pace. Concepts like blockchain, big data, artificial intelligence have entered the workforce and are definitely not leaving any time soon. What does it mean for us humans? We all need to not only acknowledge their existence but to start understanding what they mean for us and for our future.
We will need people with technological skills being able to further develop these technologies and we will need people with analytical skills who will be able to understand, analyse and draw conclusions as to what these technological changes mean for the given business or industry.
Part 2: Skills relating to our emotional capacity
In the second part, I will present you with the skills related to our emotional being. All of the below-mentioned skills are based on two important abilities of us humans: empathy and compassion.
Empathy and compassion
Empathy and compassion are often used as synonyms but as psychologists and neuroscientists claim, there is an important distinction between the two. Empathy is the ability to feel the pain and joy that someone else is feeling – it basically makes us able to walk in someone else’s shoes. Compassion, on the other hand, is the ability of our brain to feel for another person (or self) and actively be willing to help alleviate the suffering and contribute to their happiness.
I believe that although our mental capacities are important to our development as humans, empathy and compassion are crucial to us, as it is something machines and AI are not able to learn.
Having the following emotional skills will be crucial:
Resilience – embracing change
Resilience is our capacity to recover (relatively quickly) from the difficult situations life throws at our feet. The current corona crisis shows us that in the future we might expect more difficulties instead of less. Psychologists agree that some of the factors that determine whether a person is resilient or not can relate to a positive mindset; the ability to turn failures into learned lessons and letting our brain recharge after stressful / traumatic experiences. The great news is that resilience can be seen as a skill and, as such, can be trained.
It is a given fact that we are globally connected, still, companies are often struggling with this fact. Why is that? One of the reasons is that we often still ignore cultural differences and treat our international colleagues as we would treat our local ones. Respecting and understanding the culturally different views of your employees is an important condition of running a successful global business.
We do not have to wait for the company to send us off to training, we can start educating ourselves today. One of my favourite books on this topic is When Cultures Collide by Richard D. Lewis.
Virtual collaboration and communication
Although many companies were already working with virtually connected teams, the corona crisis took it to a whole new level, not only for big multinationals but also for small local companies. Virtual collaboration has shown us that it is possible to run businesses from home and that may have some big advantages.
In the future, it can be expected that a lot of companies will maintain (at least to some extent) this virtual collaboration. However, a big part of the message could be lost when it is communicated virtually instead of in person. Why? Often body language plays a big part when we communicate. During Zoom calls, we are not able to pick up on all subtleties of our body talk.
In order to master virtual communication and effective collaboration, we will need to work on ourselves further: our understanding of others, dealing with ambiguity and sharpening our own communication style.
I believe that in the future we will not need the leaders who know it all, but we will need leaders who are courageous and curious. Curious to ask difficult questions and ready to experiment, fail, get up and try again. We will need leaders who are compassionate, who care about our planet and people, and who have a strong sense of purpose.
In my work as a career coach, I’ve already observed a positive change in my clients. They want to transform their careers, so it matches their sense of purpose.
I want to end the list by mentioning compassion again, as I believe it is the basis for all of the above. As said in the beginning, compassion is the ability and willingness to help others achieve a state of well-being and happiness. Without compassion, we cannot be resilient, without compassion we cannot communicate nor collaborate with others successfully and without compassion, we cannot be the true leaders of the future.
What other future-proof skills related to our careers would you like to add to the list? Share them in the comments below!