Confidence. It's everything.

Confidence. It's everything.

Confidence gives you the desire to build capability, and the energy to expend it. 

It wakes you up in the morning, and allows you to sleep at night. 

Forget 'good to great,’ confidence takes great to greatness.

It's vaporous and intoxicating. It attracts and repels.

It can get you into trouble, and it can get you out of trouble.

Confidence takes a B- and makes it an A; it takes a premature promotion and makes you ready now.

There is never success without confidence, but confidence without success will always be rewarded.

Confidence: it starts with confiding in yourself. 

Why Robots Won't Take Our Jobs

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They are the top questions I am asked regularly: what's the future of employment? Is it true that robots will take all of our jobs?

Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty with the future of work. But that’s all we know, and that has always been the case. Anything beyond fact is merely gossip spoken by the dark knights of clickbait.

What we do know is this: humanity has managed multiple disruptive changes to the nature of work within the last twenty thousand years, and we will be able to handle another one just fine.

What each of these transitions have shown us is that the forces for change were bigger than just devices, and even larger than a form of technology for that matter. 

In fact, the largest scale changes were when the change agent domesticated humans' behavior, instead of humans domesticating the change agent

Put another way, large scale change - the size of major disruption people equate to automation and robotics - historically has only happened when tectonic shifts to human functioning were impacted by the new phenomenon.

These are serious changes, of which the automation age is not one. 

As an example, the agricultural revolution wasn’t about humans moving to jobs on the farm, it was the shift away from being individualized hunter-gatherers and into a collective society. It was the first time we coordinated as a species and showcased the social abilities of humans (justifying our extinguishing of the neanderthals). 

The domestication of wheat was a symbol for this period due to the rise of the farmer. But upon looking closer, you see that humans didn’t domesticate wheat - wheat domesticated humans. Yuval Noah Harari details this in the book Sapiens - he shows us that wheat changed humans - our diets, our land, our working relationships (usually for the worse, but that’s another article).

There were other key transitions as well:

The scientific revolution wasn’t about humans making bombs or medicine, it was about answering lingering doubts in our minds. This period was when humans finally succumbed to our ignorance about what we didn’t know about how the world and human body works (look it up - the latin root word for science is literally “ignorance”). 

The industrial revolution wasn’t about humans moving to jobs in factories, it was about the rise of mass consumption and embrace of capitalism. 

The knowledge revolution wasn’t about humans moving to jobs in corporations, it was about the raise of data processing capabilities. Computers may have been the largest leap frog in history - society is still trying to make sense of (and contain) their impact on human life.

This is where we find ourselves today.

At each juncture above there was tremendous change over many decades and hundreds of years, the scale of which many modern day “futurists" equate to AI and Robots. They are mistaken.

Machines have been replacing the capabilities of humans for over a century, showing us that any amount of large-scale, pervasive employment impact on society has already happened or is happening so gradually that we don’t notice it. Any change in our lifetimes or the next will just be a shifting of jobs and an adapting of responsibilities.

It just so happens that McKinsey agrees.

The McKinsey Global Institute recently released their own assessment: within the next 15 years, only 15% of the global workforce may need to switch jobs. By 2030, 8% to 9% of labor demand will be in new types of occupations.

This doesn’t sound so doomsday - the operative word being: switch, not lost.

For context, we have to understand that it took the world 600 years to figure out what to do with gun powder, and half a century to apply Einstein’s formula E = MC^2. More recently, it’s been 30 years since the inception of blockchain technology and it's still misunderstood by 99% of the population (and not utilized in really any capacity).

Point is, societal change is slow, and change that affects our society to the extent that modern-day doomsayers predict of AI and Robots is a long way off, if ever.

This leaves plenty of time for humans to figure out what to do next.

Humans are an immensely resourceful species - we've managed the shift from finite resources to renewable resources, and from archaic materials to modern materials - we will figure it out. Families may slowly begin to realize that they are the last generation of a certain industry, but then a new industry will become available (just ask the magazine publishers and print journalists).

Beyond the aforementioned factors, there are other forces - notably attrition due to age - that will create opportunities. Over the next several years, there will be 500 million people over 65+ on this planet - this presents a massive opportunity for the subsequent generations to take over roles previously inhabited by these older generations.  

Instead of panicking and rushing into a reinvention, ride the ripples. Don’t tread water waiting for the tsunami that isn’t going to come.

The real question you should be answering is: how do you begin to angle yourself towards the coming decade or two of changes? They are what will have the largest impact on your life.

We Ignore Risks of the Familiar

The more you do something, the less risky it seems. 

This can have adverse impacts, such as the professional skydiver who crashes to their death. Research shows they likely cut corners and didn’t pack their chute correctly.  

This is also why car accidents commonly happen within 5km of the driver’s home (on the roads they know best).

As deadly as this human tendency can be, it has also gifted us with the benefit of practice. 

Practice nums us to the potential of failure; it asserts confidence in the practitioner that they can surmount challenges as they arise.  

Parents tell their children that “practice makes perfect,” but this isn’t exactly the case. Practice helps us ignore the risks, which makes us more inclined to persevere and perform beyond our expectations.

Practice makes perseverance, but can also make pride. Make sure you are more of the former, and less of the skydiver who rushes the packing of his parachute.  

What we know, versus what we do

The human condition is to underestimate the consequences of our actions.

In this observation we find the polar opposites of humanity: our ability to alchemize our surroundings for good, and our tendency to erupt despair from our decisions.

For example, an Olympic skier knows the inherent risks, but pushes off anyways in their quest for Gold. In this case, imperfect information yields a preference to do.

All the while, a business executive may know the products he markets are a leading cause of childhood obesity, but chooses to retain his six-figure salary regardless. In this case, ignorance is bliss. 

Meanwhile, a politician may know a new policy will hurt a large cohort of people, but announces it anyways to affirm re-election. In this case, information isn't the challenge, it's the motive. 

The know-do relationship is complicated. They say knowledge is power, yet we overlook what we know everyday in grand contrarian style - if we didn't, we wouldn't be human. 

The only antidote to this tendency is to be self aware. It's to realize that space exists between what we know and what we do - and it's ok to lean on one over the other. 

Perhaps this is the purest driver of contentment: when we reach symmetry between what we know and what we do. Only then will the outcome of our decision be truly predictable. 

Creativity: as human as it is to love

Creativity is a topic that captured me from a young age. It confounds even the most established people with its exclusivity and elusiveness. It’s traditionally been reserved for artists, creative directors, and writers, leaving it out of reach of the average person: the labourer, the white collar worker, the scientist.

But creativity isn’t just found where you expect it. It’s present in every cubicle, classroom and factory. In fact, it’s everywhere you look.

Creativity is as human as it is to love.

In a world where only 25% of humans consider themselves creative, this is a message we need to hear. Take me, for example. I’m a corporate-type: I manage a brand and a profit-and-loss statement for a living... and I consider myself to be creative.

The message that “we are all creative” led me to speaking across North America about our inherent creativity. I regularly get to witness people who never thought of themselves as creative turn their creative apathy into creative energy. After the talk, they feel creative.

On this journey, I came across three insights that deepened my understanding of this subject that I hold dear.

Creativity is a chase.

As I spoke with audiences about creativity, I was often greeted with frustration that creativity is hard to catch. Similar to a gust of wind or a stubborn puppy, people would remark that they feel moments of creative intrigue, but the moments are fleeting and lead nowhere.

If this is you, then you’re experiencing the exact same feeling that even the most creative people feel: a creative insight. The problem is, you let the insights pass without taking action.

As Erik Wahl writes in The Spark and The Grind, “The Igniter worships the early magic. He treats creativity like an evening sky in the South, full of fireflies…scooping up those beautiful sparks.”

We are all invited on this chase. Whether we take it—whether we accept the responsibility of this creative rush—is the real question.

2. Behold the tingle.

In one setting, I was asked the question, “What does creativity feel like?”

Creativity is in fact one of the most human feelings. It’s one we have all experienced, but may have overlooked or disregarded.

It’s the tingle. That feeling you get when you have a good idea—a big idea—or a vision, a solution, a fix. It’s the feeling when your glance turns into a glare, your eyes look up and the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

It could be discovering a faster commute home, finally figuring out what is wrong with the lawn mower that won’t start, or a brain wave that drives you to rethink a project, report or outcome.

This feeling is the leading indicator of creativity. It is your sign that you’re onto something and that the chase has begun.

3. Problem solving + Joy = Creativity.

The tingle occurs at the intersection between problem solving and joy.  These two elements capture the essence of creativity holistically.

On one hand, it is a problem (however clear or unclear) that moves us to think in new ways, that rallies the human desire to solve it. But using this dimension alone could have us conclude that merely walking down a hallway and re-routing around obstacles could be considered creativity.

Then you combine it with the second element: joy. Creativity becomes transformative when it produces joy, and when that joy feeds and nurtures our desire to succeed. That’s when you feel your environment align with your inner being, when the creative process whispers into your soul.

My journey has me conclude that the act of creating is a necessary element to human happiness. It produces true joy that is connected deeply within, in a way that is rivalled by only one other human act: love.

Creativity is Human

Creativity is deeply human – we all are invited on the chase, feel the tingle, and experience the transformational joy that comes from it. It is as linked and unique to our species as nurturing and socializing is, and can make our world a much better place at the same time.

See you on the chase.

© Greg Murray, 2017