How to fight a robot for your job

Currently we are on the cusp of a massive economic shift. Automation, artificial intelligence and robotics are replacing the jobs of many day after day. Yes, there will be new jobs created but the question we all must wrestle with is, "Will my skills be useful in the new economy?".

The truth is, most of your skills won't be needed and sadly many people believe their job is safe, but don't fool yourself. There are tasks you do each day that should and will be automated soon.

Do you remember when it was a job to walk around opening up the parking meters and collect the change out of them? How about the good old days when you stood in line at a bank and waited to cash your check? Now millions of people snap a photo of their check on their phone and poof, the money appears in their account and literally no human banker touched the check or reviewed the signature.

If you still don't believe me and want to argue this point, just digest the fact that the companies that commercialized the massively disruptive DVD player will have watched its birth, a huge economy built around it, including redbox, and now they will sit back and watch the death of their breakthrough. The modern day truck driver, miner, street sweeper, clerk at the big box grocery store, accountant, dentist and yes even some lawyers will all go the way of the dodo.

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Now, before you start commenting about the end of the world and how technology is stealing jobs, remember that many tasks are only done by humans because we have forced ourselves to do things that are un-human. Sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle for a full day every day of the week isn't healthy. Lowering people into the belly of the earth to extract precious metals has proven to be a very dangerous task. Courageous men and women have done these things to provide for their families and to serve the demands of the economy, but a new day is coming where work is for the machines and creation is for the people.

While this sounds scary to many people around the world, remember that you were born into this world with no skills and you even messed your pants on the regular. You can and will adapt. 

Read: The do’s and don’ts of changing careers

To give some background on myself, I have "changed careers" seven times. I've been a delivery driver, youth pastor, turn around consultant, three times entrepreneur, and currently a venture fund founder/manager and economic transformation expert.

Through my career journey and by observing others I have stumbled upon one thing that gives me comfort as the world consistently changes; wherever I go... there I am. At the end of the day the only person I can blame for my success or failure is... me.

In the fast changing economy there are three things that I believe you can focus on to stay a relevant and highly valuable "you". I've listed them with some questions and activities that should assist you in keeping these three areas sharp.

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1. Authentic sense of self - Get comfortable with yourself. What quirks do you have? What environments or tasks steal energy from you? What environments or tasks give you energy? What makes you incredibly sad? What makes you ridiculously happy? If you could do any job or task tomorrow, what would it be? What about that job or task makes it appealing to you? What are you really good at doing? What are you awful at doing?

2. Problem solving skills - know how to find a solution in any situation. One of the activities I do often to keep this skill sharp is thinking about ways to improve businesses I frequent or experiences I consistently have. This means coming up with a marketing plan I may never share with my barber or trouble shooting options of how to get people on and off of a plane faster (I still think planes should have gull wing doors the full length of the fuselage and a small ramp that appears). If I end up building a good relationship with the business owner or manager, I often offer my ideas to improve business in a friendly way if they are open to it. I do this at no cost to the business because I often get as much out of it as they do. Additionally reading biographies provides insight into how others have problem solved.

3. Working with people - In life you have to interact with people, get good at it. The first and most important thing about working with other people is to realize that they are not you. They think different and have had different experiences in life that have made them into who they are. They are highly skilled in many areas just like you, but they are also potentially highly dysfunctional just like you. One activity that is often painful but a great exercise in working with others is to serve on a board or committee of a charity. It forces you to work with others and you must give everyone around the table the benefit of the doubt that they mean well because they are donating their time just like you.

Now, no one knows exactly what the future of work looks like but I do know one thing... we need you to be on your 'A' game when it comes to the three areas I described. That way you are ready for anything and if the robots take all our jobs then at least we will all be awesome people who like ourselves, know how to play well with others and we will be able to create fun and collaborative solutions to our menial problems while the robots do all the work.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

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