How often do you practice adapting to change?

Today is March 4 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you practice adapting to change?” One critical component of navigating the chaos involves maintaining a sense of wonder in order to adjust to the changing nature of work.

As the World Economic Forum stated in its January 2016 report, The Future of Jobs: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Developments, “corporations, governments and individuals need to proactively adapt to the new patterns of consumption, production, and employment.” Genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, driverless automobiles, drones, nanotechnology, 3D printing biotechnology, smart systems (homes, factories, farms, grids, and cities) will help tackle problems ranging from supply chain management to climate change.

In 2019 the World Economic Forum published a Global Risks Report that outlines a wide variety of dynamics that will continue to change how we life, work, and do just about everything in life. By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that do not yet exist. In such a rapidly evolving employment landscape, the ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements, job content and the aggregate effect on employment is increasingly critical for businesses, governments and individuals in order to fully seize the opportunities presented by these trends.

AT&T is one example of a business asking its employees to retool for today’s rapidly changing global marketplace. Randall Stephenson, the chief and chairman of AT&T is all too familiar with the disruptive forces of the current industrial revolution. “There is a need to retool yourself, and you should not expect to stop.” People who do not spend five to 10 hours a week in online learning, he added, “will obsolete themselves with the technology.”

As English theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking observed “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” He reminded others to "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up." Hawking managed a remarkable career while suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease for decades until his death in 2018.

Another example of someone who adapted to change is Ross Tucker. After bouncing around a few teams in the National Football League, Tucker knew that the NFL stood for "Not For Long" and kept an eye on his options for his post-football career. In 2007, Tucker attended the NFL's first broadcast boot camp designed for current and recently retired players to learn about the industry.

Tucker, who was back with Washington, approached Sports Illustrated and pitched the idea of writing a column on his training camps experience. “As a player on the bubble, Tucker's piece would either document the thrill of making the team or the disappointment of getting cut. It turned out to be neither. Tucker suffered a spinal cord bruise in a preseason game against Baltimore.” His playing career was over but Tucker’s Sports Illustrated column was so compelling on dealing with the reality of being forced into a life transformation that he received multiple offers from different media networks, including Princeton University, where he became the radio color commentator for the football team.

Tucker would go on to cobble together several jobs in both the college and NFL landscapes. He jokes that he receives roughly 20 1099 tax forms at the end of the year. He's also built his own podcast network covering the game from numerous angles including gambling and fantasy football. Tucker retooled himself and adapted his career to meet his situation.

When is the last time you proactively learned something new, enhanced a current skill, or developed a new one? Are you dedicated to retooling yourself in order to remain relevant in today's hyper-competitive, ever changing and dynamic global marketplace?