Entering The 21st Century, With 20th Century Thinking
While casually exploring a little gift shop in the Galapagos Islands, I looked up and this shirt was right in front of me (In the above photo). The quote grabbed my attention immediately. According to Darwin, the most important attribute that an animal can possess, to survive, is the ability to adapt and respond to change; More important than even strength and intelligence.
This got me thinking about how the human species is no exception to this law. In this day and age, in developed countries, perhaps our survival does not depend on this, however, the people who are most responsive to change are the ones who become and remain most successful. There are so many ways that I can relate this concept to our lives, but I am going to focus on one subject in particular in this post.
A very real problem we are facing today is that the majority of the population is entering the 21st century with 20th century thinking, for no fault of their own. This is what our education system teaches us. Our schools teach us to go to school, get good grades, find a secure job, work 40 hours a week for 40 years and then retire on a pension. The problem is that this system no longer works.
The Times Are A Changin’
This way of thinking may have worked 20 years ago, but it no longer does today, for most people, and many people who continue to blindly follow this system will be met with failure and disappointment. The fact is that our world has changed and it continues to change. Just look around.
Students are investing 4+ years of their life and 10’s of thousands of dollars to get a university degree and are then unable to get a job in their field. How many people do you know that have entered the work force recently that are actually using their degrees?
People are counting on “job security”, but job security no longer exists. I’m sure you know people who worked hard and loyally at a company for many years, only to be laid off or people who have lost their job as the business they worked for shut down. Not to mention that employees are now competing with technology and outsourcers from India or the Philippines who will work for 1/10 of the price.
“The world has changed, and the only true security is your ability to create value and get paid for that value.” – Jeff Walker
Pensions are a thing of the past. Many corporations have already cut pensions and I personally don’t think they’ll still be around in 30 years when it’s my generations turn to retire. People argue this point with me all the time, but whether I’m right or wrong, it seems irresponsible to me, for us to leave our financial future in someone else’s hands, instead of taking control of it ourselves.
If we decide to take responsibility for our financial future, best case scenario, we retire with a pension and also earn passive investment or business income that we’ve created. Worse case scenario is that we do not retire with a pension, but we are still fine because we decided to take our financial future into our own hands years earlier. On the other hand, what’s the worst case scenario if we decided to do nothing and just hope for the best?
Opportunity Is All Around Us
These changes may seem like negatives, but they don’t have to be. This drastic change is only a bad thing if we are unwilling to adapt. With globalization and the internet, there may be more competition than ever before, but there is also more opportunity than ever before.
Living in this fast paced environment, things are changing faster than any other time in history. This is a good thing since as things change, opportunities are born. Don’t listen when people say that all the “great business ideas” have already been acted on or that all of the niche markets are already saturated. At the rate of change we are experiencing, new niche markets are emerging and new problems are being created that need to be solved, all the time.
“Opportunities are created in direct proportion to rate of change” – Eben Pagan
Today, it may be easier for employers to find replacements than ever before, but it’s also become easier for any of us to increase our skill and value. In the past, if people wanted to learn a new skill, they had to physically find mentors to teach and train them in their craft. Today it’s so cheap and easy to publish knowledge online and most extremely successful people have done just that. We now have access to any information we could possibly need to become successful, with the click of a mouse.
Today, job security may not be what it used to be, but now anyone can start a business online with little to no capital and be able to sell to anyone on this planet that has access to the internet and owns a credit card. Think about how much easier it is to share our messages with the world today than it was 30 years ago.
I could go on and on, but my point is that there is more opportunity around us than ever before in history. We just have to shift our way of thinking to take advantage of it.
How To Succeed In The 21st Century
This increase in opportunity and competition is going to lead to an even greater divide between the extremely successful and the struggling. This new world leaves much less room for mediocrity. With the increase in global competition and technology it will be much harder for people to coast through life, remaining “average,” expecting that someone will look after them. However, with this increase in opportunity it will be much easier for people to create massive success.
This divide will be based on a skill gap. For those who make the effort to become highly skilled, the opportunity to create success will be greater than ever, but for the unskilled, times will be tougher than ever. To thrive in the 21st century we need to take responsibility for our lives.
We need to become life long learners. The world is changing at such a fast pace and we need to be doing the same if we want to keep up. No longer can we graduate from high school or university and then believe that our learning is complete; That we are done with education. When I say education, I am not talking about the formal education that we learn in school. I am talking about personal education.
“Formal education will earn us a living. Personal education will earn us a fortune” – Jim Rohn
It we don’t constantly upgrade the software on our computers, eventually it will go obsolete and no longer work with current programs. It’s the same with our minds. If we aren’t upgrading our minds, they too will eventually go obsolete. What worked 20 years ago, no longer works today. And with the speed of change today, in many industries, what worked last year is no longer effective.
Build yourself. Work on your mindset. Always be improving the way you think. Learn skills that make you more valuable to the marketplace. Find people who are living the life that you want to live and start doing what they’re doing. I am not just talking to people who are unhappy with their lives. The most successful people I have ever met or learned from are always working on themselves, which is why they are so successful.
“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” – Tony Robbins
The great news is that we’re human and humans are the only species on this planet that do not have to follow their genetic code. If a bird wanted to fly east instead of south for the winter, they couldn’t do it. We, however, can make the choice to completely change the course of our lives. We can decide to make the next 5 years of our lives drastically different than the last 5.
When I learned this principal all those years ago, I did just that. I made the next 5 years of my life drastically different than my last 5; and now I plan on making my next 5 years even better. And we all have this same choice!