The Ultimate Survival Skill for the New Economy

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We’re living in incredibly turbulent times. In spite of newspaper headlines proclaiming growing employment and a slowly growing economy, many business people admit to a pervasive feeling of uncertainty and confusion about their businesses.

The well-spring of this uncertainty lies in one of the characteristics of the newly-arrived information age. Business people are being buffeted by an increasingly rapid rate of change. Consider this. In 1900, the total amount of knowledge available to mankind was doubling about every 500 years. In 1990, it was doubling about every two years. Today, according to some, the rate of change is doubling every 35 days!

Imagine the implications of that kind of increase in the rate of change! It means new products, new regulations, new market configurations, new customers, and new technology in almost every industry. It’s no wonder that we’re confused and uncertain about what to do. It wasn’t so long ago that we had a growing market to cover over many of our flaws. Not true today.

And the growth of that knowledge continues at an expanding rate. One futurist predicts that today’s high school students will have to absorb more information in their senior year alone than their grandparents did in their entire lifetime.

That incredibly rapid pace of new knowledge is driving the forces of change at an unprecedented rate. That rate of change is continuing to accelerate. The effect of that snowballing rate of change on our businesses and our jobs can be cataclysmic. It’s almost as if a malevolent spirit were stalking our economy, rendering all the wisdom of the past useless, and casting a spell of confusion and uncertainty over the land.

The indications are that this rapid state of change will not be a temporary phenomena we all must live through. Rather, it will be the permanent condition we must accept for the foreseeable future. Rapid change is not a phase we’re passing through, it’s a process into which we’re entering.

That means it is likely that the conclusions, paradigms and core beliefs upon which we based our decisions just two or three years ago are likely to be obsolete today. Even more sobering, the conclusions and strategies which we develop today will be obsolete in a couple of years. We can count on this continuing obsolescence of our best ideas and strategies to be the constant state of affairs.

One of my clients recently told his employees, “The only thing you can count on is that you won’t be doing this job in three years.” His point was that the job will change in that period of time to such a degree that it’ll be a different job. The technology used will likely change, as will the customers, the systems and the focus of the job.

The insightful person will accept that rapid change is now a defining characteristic of our economy, and plan to deal with it effectively in an on-going basis. Instead of thinking we should just persevere until it’s behind us, we should prepare for rapid change to be a way of life.

What’s the best way to go forward in the light of this rapid change? What mind-sets can we adopt that will equip us to survive and prosper in turbulent times? What skills do we need to survive and prosper in the information age?

I believe there is one core skill which will define the most successful individuals. It’s the ability and propensity to engage in self-directed learning. The only sustainable effective response to a rapidly changing world is cultivating the ability to positively transform ourselves and our organizations. That’s the definition of self-directed learning. [Read More]

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Kahle
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B sales people and sales managers to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries.

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