“When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.”
– John Wooden
Is it a waste of time to prepare for opportunity? You see the reason for my question is because preparing for opportunity takes a high degree of risk – especially when things are changing so fast. A person is sacrificing time, effort and most likely money preparing for potential opportunities that have a reasonably high chance of not realising
For me preparing for the future isn’t an option. I need to do it. The real question is how can I identify where the future opportunities are and then set a clear direction in which to move?
These four things help me think about future opportunities.
Predict the future
There are three wildly different views on the future of work - labour scarcity, job scarcity, and the end of work. Being in the IT industry I see how the world is changing and that automation and self-service are removing a huge amount of jobs to the point where option three – the end of work – could become a possibility. Interestingly though the other two exist simultaneously – there is both labour scarcity and job scarcity.
The way I see the future is that technology is evolving faster than people can get educated to use the technology. It seems to me that for the foreseeable future there will be a need for people who are continually upskilling themselves and that these people will get well paid.
Do I know what these scare jobs will be?
The three things I do everyday is spend 15 – 30 minutes on Linkedin to see that people and companies are talking about, I read blogs that I am subscribed to and I see what jobs are being advertised. Looking at open jobs might be a bit late but at least I can see if I am on the right track.
Other things I do is at the end of the year I look at the predictions for the following year – particularly the World Economic Forum, and I look at the Gartner Hype Cycle to what is on the horizon.
How do you predict the future?
Create the future
The other way of looking at the future is that we can create it. This involves creating and doing something new and involves a huge amount of risk. Of course with high risk comes high reward.
At the heart of creating the future is acting on an idea or pursuing a dream. I have studied ideas, and written a book on Idea Management, and idea are mysterious things.
There are two lines of thought on where ideas come from:
Ideas come from hard work:Ideas come from research and structured thinking/ideation and then eventually an idea will be formed.
Ideas just comes to you: Ideas will find you when you are thinking and doing something else.A large percentage of ideas come to people when they are in the shower or going for a walk.
It is the same with arts like music where Chris De Burgh will say songs will be formed after days of hard work in the recording studio while others will say that the songs just came to them almost fully formed.
To me ideas are so mysterious that I am starting to think that a lot of ideas come from God who drops thoughts into our minds.
How are you creating the future and where do you think ideas come from?
Prepare for the future
Today we have to be continually learning and fortunately there are a lot of excellent cost-effective resources at our disposal.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs):
My favourite MOOC at the moment is edX where there are thousands of excellent courses to study. Of course it often gets quite difficult to find the time to do the courses you have selected but I believe it is worth it.
Podcasts are another fantastic way to get valuable content and almost all free. My current favourite podcasts are:
The Ziglar Show – Inspiring Your True Performance
The Tim Ferriss Show
The Tony Robbins Podcast
Work Life with Adam Grant
The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them on the way to work or while exercising.
I think it is also important to do courses at the leading South African providers, and online internationally, but I find that they are often quite expensive (for me at least).
What are you doing to increase your knowledge and skills?
Faith in the future
Do you feel stressed and anxious about the future? I do but I have to continuously remind myself that I can do as much as I can but I also need to place my life in the hands of God and trust that He will lead and provide for me and my family.
“In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the LORD establishes their steps.”.
- Proverbs 16:9
So for me I ask God to please help me to decide what I should focus on and pursue, I then try and do the necessary work required and then trust that God will open the right doors for me.
How do you face the future?
I recently read on Facebook that a man named David Martin had died this year. David Martin was a professor of sociology at the London School of Economics. The reason I know he died is because he was an influence in the life of a man named Leonard Sweet is often lists in the 50 most influential Christians in America.
This is what Leonard Sweet wrote about David Martin:
“One of my theological heroes, and a pioneer of semiotics even though he didn't call it that. I never met him. I never heard him speak in person. But I have every one of his books, most of them signed. He stirred in me a new but very old way of reading Scripture, and I've never been the same since. It always pleased me to tell people that my favorite theologian taught at the London School of Economics.”
I read David Martin’s Wikipedia page and was very interested to discover that:
He taught at primary schools while studying by correspondence.
His first marriage ended in divorce after only 4 years.
He always felt like an outsider and even after becoming a professor he felt he didn’t belong.
I think why this resonated with me is that sometimes I feel like my life is going nowhere – possibly like David did while teaching as a primary school teacher. I also feel like my preparation for the future is meaningless – like David possibly did while studying via correspondence. But this shows me that if I persist then a new fantastic future is possible.
I hope you found this blog helpful, interesting and encouraging. Please send me an email or connect with me on Linkedin - as I am always interested in your thoughts and how you are managing your life.
Until the next blog.
The views of this blog are my own and don’t represent the views of the company I work for.