Overcoming Fear About the Uncertainty of Work

by Karl Rohde — Get free updates of new posts here. Original Photo: Jonas Nilsson Lee. Photo Edit: Karl Rohde

This article is a continuation in a series of articles on the Social Age. You can start reading it here.

When I look at people in the workforce I see fear. Mostly it lies dormant when things are predictable, comfortable and when we are distracted by small things. This fear is however, quickly activated. It becomes more pronounced when businesses change and peoples jobs are impacted. It could be a re-structure, a new operating model, downsizing, offshoring, merging and more. The fear is this: Will I be lucky enough to make it through the change. Since we were taught through the industrial era to be reliant, this is a natural response. It is however, time for a more relevant response that relies less on luck and more being relevant to the present economic era.

The reality is that businesses are not only changing, they are being disrupted whether they like it or not. There are winners (Amazon, Netflix) and there are losers (Kodak, Blockbuster). The Social Age is making its mark and making a big impact on businesses and workers alike.

How the Social Age has Impacted Work

  1. The industrial age is dead. Compliance and obedience at work will no longer be rewarded like it was in the past. Google, for example, places recruitment as the number one skill for managers and what they want are a new type of employee: SMART CREATIVES who lead themselves, collaborate and never stop growing. The digital era is spawning fast business where new rules apply and where entrepreneurial culture is on the rise.
  2. The map is gone. Career planning used to be predictable. Now the only certainty is uncertainty. Business transformation is in play. We are seeing the thin edge of the wedge. What we see now will only be amplified in the future. Just reflect back 5 years when the iPad didn’t exist. The pace of change is faster than we can plan for. No one can plan even 5 years ahead. We are at the start of a whole new era and we are just beginning to figure it all out.
  3. Customers are more tech savvy and can source their own technology. Customers have more options now than ever before and they don't need to rely on a skilled technical elite to guide them. In many cases marketing teams are giving IT a kick in the rear. With digital, the channel for business is no longer controlled.
  4. There are now two races. Seth Godin articulates that there is now a race to the top and a race to the bottom. Be the cheapest or be the best. Being mediocre is not a long term option like it used to be. At the bottom we observe the Internet fuelled challenge to lower prices, find cheaper labour, and deliver more for less. At the top we observe the remarkable where people and businesses are embracing creativity, innovation and the pursuit of meaning (watch a few TED.com talks).

What Must I Do Now?

I'm not going to give you a map (Remember, the map is gone.)

What we are seeing is the pressure to change. What naturally follows is the impulse to survive. This is the law of nature. Choosing to hang onto the old way is going against nature and what many will do. This is the difference, according to Carol Dweck between two mindsets. Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

Adapt yourself to the environment into which you have been cast, and show true love to the fellow mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you. --Marcus Aurelius. (Roman Emperor A.D. 121-180)

I'm with Marcus Aurelius on his sage advice to adapt. In the next article in this series on the Social Age I get cracking with practical things you can do to adapt and grow with style and poise.

For now, follow the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin and make time to think about where you are (Tip: The Social Age) and where you are going and what are you doing to get there.


Thanks for reading another WorkLikeAnArtist.com article.

Question: What are your observations of this new world of work? email me - karl [at] worklikeandartist.com. If you liked this post please share on your social networks, email to a few friends or Connect with me on Google+, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn