Monday, October 3, 2016

Staying Relevant, a Personal Imperative

Businesses face the continuous challenge of having to remain relevant in the marketplace.  They must
continue to provide products and services that the market wants and needs which means they must be constantly investing time and focus to assessing the future. It is only by reviewing possible future needs that they can prepare today to meet those potential needs The better equipped they are to satisfy those needs, the more successful they will be.

You and I are not so different. We must also look ahead to the future and gauge what skills and abilities the business marketplace will need and prepare ourselves to deliver them. We must assure our relevancy to ensure our employability. Staying relevant is an imperative for each of us if we are to future-proof ourselves for tomorrow's workplace.
We must all Learn for a living if we hope to continue to Earn a living
The continual challenge we all face is to find ways to keep pushing our sell-by-date so that it exceeds our 'need' to work. We must therefore be constantly refreshing our skills but, not just any skills.  We must become more strategic in the skills we grow.

Organizations will typically invest willingly in developing our skills to fill gaps they have today. However, this may not serve us in the future if those skills will one day be redundant. Our time, energy and focus will better serve us by developing skills that will also be relevant in the marketplace of the future.

In ensuring we remain relevant, we must rely on ourselves. We must become ruthlessly selfish in our pursuit of development that will serve us not just in the short-term, but in the long-term also.  We can't make the mistake of solely focusing on increasing our marketability today, if it doesn't serve us tomorrow also. Focusing on building and strengthening our Career Path will not serve us in the long-term if that career is housed within an unsustainable industry. It doesn't matter how far or fast we climb if we are part of a dying industry.

Though there are many tips and hints out there to help you to future-proof yourself, here are a few to get you started...

  1. Develop and maintain a diverse network of contacts.  You want to have connections that span across industries and roles, people that will help you to keep on top of trends and changes in the workplace. You want a variety of opinions and insights to better gauge your best options.
  2. Remain open to new experiences. Though trying anything new expands and stretches us in some way, be more selective. Use your limited time wisely. Not all new experiences will stretch you in a way that prepares you for the future. You may have to actively search out those opportunities that not just allow you to experience new things relative to today's marketplace, but for those that also prepare you for tomorrow's.
  3. Constantly explore what lies ahead. Don't get caught up in putting your head down. You need to continuously explore what's happening in your industry, what's happening in your role. What are the trends, what are the issues, what are the future needs, what are the gaps? Knowing the answers to some of these questions allows you to build capabilities today that will serve you (and others) tomorrow.
  4. Be a digital native. Digital technologies are only going to continue to become more and more integrated into the work that we do. It is important to stay up to date on the latest digital strategies, tools and technologies. 
  5. Personal Brand. Having a recognisable and defined brand helps to draw others to you. Knowing who you are, what you can do and what you stand for creates a trust in your deliverables and helps separate you from the masses.
  6. Leadership skills. Even the marketplace of tomorrow will require leaders, however technology will be changing how we must lead and communicate with others. Leaders will need to possess a dexterity in working with diversity (different countries, cultures, genders, ages) as technology breaks down physical borders. Leaders will need to be more open and transparent in their styles as they create networked teams that collaborate virtually.
It is far too easy for us to get caught up in the work of today that we fail to look forward to what 'work' will be available for us down the road. However, it is those that take the time to look forward that are best situated to ensure their employability. Staying relevant is not a task left to later or to someone else. It is, and should be, a personal imperative and priority. Look forward to what is coming and prepare for it today. Your future self will thank you.

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