A friend of mine set up his restaurant in Delhi, India, at the beginning of February 2020. Everything was going well but then bam! COVID! Suddenly there was panic and frenzy and navigating the F&B space became extremely difficult. I should know because we had to deal with something similar with our own F&B brand — The Nutty Kitchen, a vegan-beverage startup.
After his place re-opened, he found it difficult to get back customers. The conventional marketing methods could only do so much and he wasn’t well versed with the digital world.
Stories like his dot the current work landscape. For both business owners and job goers. The work sphere is continuously evolving. Digitization is the biggest aspect of it, yes, but the effects can be felt in almost every sphere. As a result, the definition of success also continues to evolve.
I feel communication, adaptability, and patience are extremely important skills for almost any professional or a business owner. But they don’t exist in isolation. Going forward, they’re not going to guarantee success alone.
In this article, I want to touch upon a couple of complex skills that I feel we don’t get to read about a lot. These are ideas I’ve come across in books, social media, and on the internet in general. They stuck. And these are skills, I believe, that will become paramount as we move forward. Both for businesses and for professionals:
In the current scenario, everything is being built to shorten our attention spans. Like this Guardian article says: There’s a lot more to focus on but less time to do so.
This reflects in the work that we do. Distraction, depression, popcorn brain, and so on. Charlie Harary, the author of Unlocking Greatness, said in an interview,
Whenever I teach students, I tell them, “Your chance of being successful has gone up exponentially because all you’ve got to do now is actually try to pay attention for more than five minutes.”
With so many tools at our disposal, focus is likely to become the skill that puts you ahead in the game, because it’s going to be difficult to come by.
How you can better your focus?
One resource that has helped me a lot is Chris Bailey’s book Hyperfocus. The author presents some wonderful strategies to improve our attention span and focus. The three things that I’ve implemented include:
- Switching off all notifications on my cell-phone when I sit down to work
- Prioritizing and limiting my to-do list to only 3–5 tasks in a day.
- Not looking at my cell phone the first thing in the morning.
Canceling the noise and filtering information
We live in the information age. We’re being hit by it, constantly, from every angle. In almost every professional sphere, you are required to filter and sift through a growing sea of information to conclude.
Marketing professionals go through various strategies and plans before finalizing one that suits their brand. Teachers go through thousands of words and essays before bringing out the most reliable and relatable one to their students. Journalists go through several hours of video footage and written communication before writing a story worth it is salt. And there is no better example than the field of data analytics, which has seen an exponential rise in the past few years.
There is a very well-known quote by American biologist Edward O. Wilson:
We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely
Effectively and efficiently going through information is the need of the hour. And it will continue to gain importance as we progress and the amount of information we’re surrounded by increases. We already see an example of this in the fake news scenario. It has become hard to distinguish between the “noise” and genuinely helpful information.
How you can filter information better?
While this will differ vastly for different professions, I can address this strictly from a personal point. I am a writer, social media marketer, and business owner. Here’s how I filter out the information and make the process easier for myself:
- Shorten the list of people I follow on social media. I only follow people who add some kind of value to my personal/professional life. As a result, I’ve reduced my use of social media considerably and therefore the stream of constant information I get.
- Setting a time to read and consume information online. I have active processes in place that prevent me from just going on Google and searching the answer to almost every single one of my queries. This often led to information overload, which I’ve been able to successfully manage.
Constant learning and adaptability
As educator Ernest Boyer says, “ The future belongs to the integrators”.
If evolution has taught us anything, it’s that the fittest and those most adapted to change are the ones that survive. This is important because, with the work and business landscape changing at such a speed, we’re gradually moving away from a world that favors specialists to one that favors someone with multiple skills.
Some professions have become obsolete and others that have been completely overhauled. Look at the work of a librarian for example. Everything that earlier required a person can now be achieved with a computer.
A robot recently wrote this entire article! It’s incidents like this that make you wonder and sometimes fear for your place in the professional work. The work we do right now might not even be a part of the market in a decade to come.
The only way then to stay on top of your game or to stop from becoming obsolete is to keep learning new things, re-learning old things in new ways, and adapt to changing environments quickly and efficiently.
How you can learn constantly and adapt?
- Read. Everyday. I read first thing in the morning and the last thing before going to bed. It provides genuine, no-bs information that feeds the mind
- Strive to pick up a new skill every 2–3 months. It doesn’t have to do with your profession. I am currently learning the Ukulele. Learning new things continuously helps your brain become better at learning.
Evolution is the name of the game. In essence, we need to evolve as fast as our systems and processes are evolving. Thankfully, despite all the challenges we also have the most resources available at our disposal. And that’s the beauty of the paradoxical times we live in.
Even if it seems difficult right now, taking small steps to incorporate the above changes in our lives daily can have tremendous benefits for our growth.