Donna's Blog

The phone call from your future self

There’s a new radio ad from MYOB that keeps grabbing my attention, as it’s a play on the old “what advice would you give your younger self”.  The ad has someone taking a phone call from their future selves, telling them that business is booming and they should make the decision to get onto MYOB immediately!
If you got a phone call from your future self, I wonder what advice you would give about your career, and the choices you are making now, to keep you relevant for the future of work.
With talk growing about what jobs and roles will be overtaken by artificial intelligence it’s becoming increasingly clear that there are things you should be learning and doing now to future proof your career.
Warning bells should be ringing for you if your role is highly technical (lawyers, accountants, engineers), you spend a lot of time at your desk each day and/or much of what you do is repetitive.
However the skills that will never go away are things like:


  • Leading and managing change
  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Building strong networks and connecting people
  • Influencing and initiating progress
  • Working across boundaries and cultures
  • Planning, having and communicating a compelling future or vision

The phone call from your future self would be advising you to learn more about how you can do any (or all) of the above.  What are your strengths and weaknesses in the above list?  What activities could you undertake to gain skills in these areas?
To improve your future-maker skills, have a go at some of these:



Change Making
If you are new to the idea of Change Management, educate yourself on the various models and theories (eg LaMarsh, Kotter, Lewin).  When others are complaining about or resisting change, take an appreciative inquiry approach.  Be the voice asking what’s working, how can we make it work better, and what do we need to do to overcome the resistance.


Sense Making
Looking for patterns and meaning where others don’t see it.  Can you draw the problem as a Venn diagram, and then add real value by talking about what’s sitting in the intersections of the circles.  Check out Dan Roam’s book The Back of the Napkin, and Lynne Cazalys book Making Sense.


Match Making
Have a solid network (read Janine Garner’s book It’s Who You Know on this). Then share it around.  Connect people who can help people.


Rain Making
Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits book talks about being a “transition” person.  Someone who acts and positively influences people to make things happen.   Look for possibilities where others see blocks. 


Peace Making
Learn another language, or learn about other cultures.  I do a lot of work in China so have read lots on Chinese culture in both fiction and non-fiction forms.  One of my favourite stories from China culture is The Monkey King (many of you may remember the TV show Monkey that was on the ABC a number of years ago).  When I’m in China and I talk about that legend, it never ceases to make my Chinese colleagues smile with surprise and delight that I’m so well versed on this aspect of their culture.  I also recently read The First Muslim:  The story of Mohammed.  For me it’s about wanting to understand other cultures and situations to better build relationships.


Map Making
There’s a couple of activities you can do here.  One of my favourites is the legacy exercise:  What were your stakeholder groups (team, customers, shareholders, suppliers, peers) saying about you in the past? What are they saying about you now? What do you want them to say about you in the future?  And for fun, you could create a cover story vision.  Imagine it’s 5 or 10 years from now, and an appropriate publication is featuring you, your team, function or organisation.  What are they writing about you?  What are the side bar stories? What #hashtag about you is trending?



The future of work is now. What are you doing to prepare and future-proof your career?


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