01 Jan 6 Strengths You Need for Long-Term Career Growth
Technological disruption (think Big Data, algorithms, and biotechnology such as Artificial Intelligence aka AI) is changing economies, industries, individual companies, and specific jobs at breakneck speed. Can a person who still has decades of work ahead of them possibly keep up?
I believe there are six core strengths, regardless of industry or field, that each person who aspires to long-term career relevancy should cultivate. And cultivate now. Here they are:
- Mindfulness Meditation. This is the practice of “paying attention on purpose,” which helps you laser focus on what’s happening within you and around you. Mindfulness is a crucial foundation for the other strengths I mention below; in its absence, the remaining strengths won’t stand as sturdy.
- Emotional Intelligence. This is a skill set that combines self-awareness with other-awareness (think empathy), and is essential for fostering strong relationships. Even as AI continues to proliferate in the coming decades, relationships will remain a core ingredient for success and fulfillment.
- Learning Agility. This is a set of integrated behaviors that involve a person deliberately seeking new and challenging experiences, receiving feedback, and reflecting–with the ultimate purpose of applying and adapting what they’ve learned as they embrace additional challenges. The grit and willingness to become comfortable with discomfort is best produced through the aforementioned strengths of Mindfulness Meditation and Emotional Intelligence.
- Clarity of Thought. We live in a world of mass distraction, and this condition intensifies with each passing day as countless bits of information are released into the world. Distraction is our common enemy as human beings (second only to death), and those who constantly develop and sharpen four interlocking modes of thinking–creative, critical, integrative, and strategic–will have the long-term advantage vs. those who do not.
- Powerful Storytelling. The power and stickiness of great stories predates most human inventions. Stories resonate with us more fully and for much longer than facts, data, or logic. Those who leverage clarity of thought to tell simple, resonant stories that give the “why” and “how” something must be accomplished will thrive in the decades to come, just as they’re thriving right now.
- Mastery. When someone demonstrates mastery or expertise in even the smallest of skills or fields, they’ve earned the right to be heard and, quite often, to be paid. Individuals who develop the first five strengths listed here will have the focus and decision-making ability to pick which areas to master and, therefore, have a competitive edge over those who are just “good enough.”
Full disclaimer: Some fragments of what I’ve written here will turn out to be false; and this reality applies to any blog post, article, podcast, video, or book that purports to give advice on preparing for the future. But that doesn’t mean there’s no value in reading such pieces and getting prepared. After all, wouldn’t you rather be proactively doing something to improve yourself and your career prospects, even if you don’t know what’s going to happen months or years from now? Does anyone know for certain what’s going to happen regarding anything, be it the weather, stock prices, tariffs, or powerful individuals staying in office or the CEO’s chair?
I urge you to prepare for your career’s long-term viability, based on what you know right now and your best educated guesses.
The alternative is akin to an inattentive deer caught in the headlights. If the roads of technological disruption are so ubiquitous that you have to cross one of them at some point or another, at least pay attention to which way the traffic is heading.