I always like to see the big picture of something to understand it. Seeing the big picture helps me know the relationship between the elements. It also helps me see where I fit in. At the end, it helps me make informed decision or opinion. That’s why I like books such as Guns, Germs, and Steel that gives me the big picture of history.
Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman is a book that fits that category. It gives me the big picture of how the world works today. It explains how different forces shape the way we live.
It’s also a bit nostalgic for me. One of Friedman’s previous books, The World Is Flat, is what inspired me to start this website. It talks about the power of individuals in the 21st century and how those from the third-world can compete with those from the first-world. I was very excited when I learned that and decided to start this website!
In The World Is Flat, the key word is flat: people from different parts of the world are now on a level playing field. In Thank You for Being Late, the key word is fast: we now live in the age of acceleration. Things are moving faster than ever before. Because of that, what’s critical today is the ability to adapt.
How can we do that? How can we stay relevant in this fast-changing world?
Here are four ways to do that from the book along with my thoughts.
1. Embrace Lifelong Learning
In the past, people could stop their education after they graduated from college. That’s no longer true today. Skills are becoming obsolete faster than ever before, so you need to constantly upgrade yourself. You need to embrace lifelong learning.
The Economist did a special report on this a while back. Here is an excerpt:
In many occupations it has become essential to acquire new skills as established ones become obsolete… A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening… To remain competitive, and to give low- and high-skilled workers alike the best chance of success, economies need to offer training and career-focused education throughout people’s working lives.
Like it or not, lifelong learning has become a necessity. In fact, you might need to reinvent yourself every now and then.
Here are two questions you should ask yourself:
- Have I made learning a habit?
- What skill should I learn next?
2. Be Creative and Empathic
More and more jobs are being automated these days. This article explains that the main threat to jobs is not outsourcing but automation. Even jobs that seem safe, like accounting, are prone to automation.
There are two things that can’t be automated, though: creativity and empathy. Machines can’t do these two things. So aim to have more of these qualities in yourself. Be more creative at what you do. And try to put empathy into the mix.
3. Be a Part of a Healthy Community
Your life is like a tree. If you want to grow, you need to be planted on a good soil. That “good soil” is a healthy community. A healthy community gives you the support you need to face the challenges of this age. It also helps you find balance in your life.
So be a part of such a community. It could be a religious community, a club, a neighborhood, or even just a group of friends. The important thing is that you have some people who can support you.
4. Motivate Yourself
Thanks to the Internet, we now have an abundance of resources for learning and growing. So the problem is no longer the availability of resources; it’s the availability of motivation. What makes the difference between those who make it and those who don’t is their self-motivation.
Do you have the motivation to make the most of the resources available to you? The more motivated you are, the further you will go.
How good are you in doing the four things above? How can you improve yourself in each? Your answers can help you thrive in this fast-changing world.