The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.
– William Gibson, author of Distrust That Particular Flavor.
The agile lifestyle is a different kind of lifestyle for a new generation of people. These new people are digital natives. They were born to an era that has been and will continue to be transformed by the internet. They are living in a mesh of connective tissue comprised of telecommunication satellites, receivers, routers, switches, and computer devices.
An unconnected world is absolutely alien to a digital native. The digital native has spent tens of thousands of hours connecting to people through the web, email, texting, and video games before she ever starts her first job.
The author and futurist Marc Prensky has written extensively about digital natives. To Prensky, digital natives think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. Prensky digital natives are accustomed to digesting information quickly in a networked setting, often with gamification elements to promote motivation.
There are a number of consequences to the fundamental rewiring of the digital native brain that is taking place.
Whether we like it or not, whether we are ready for it or not, these profound changes are disrupting old industries and transforming our relationship to work.
The Future Looks Scary if You’re Just Another Warm Body
Agile people will continue to discover newer and more effective means of working smarter, with more creativity, utilizing more outsourcing and automation. The old brute force solution of throwing as many warm bodies as possible at a problem will continue to lose its effectiveness.
Anything that can be accomplished by an algorithm will be done by computer.
Anything that can be done by a machine will be left to robots.
Any knowledge that is closed off today by specialized professions will eventually be scanned, archived, indexed, and made searchable quicker than you can say “travel agent.”
These changes aren’t hypothetical. They are already happening.
So who is left to flourish in the new economy?
Highly skilled technical people.
People with tremendous emotional intelligence.
Which will you be?
Anyone Can Be A Factory Owner
The digital natives transformed by 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, rocked by Enron and Katrina, and disillusioned by a host of dislocations of authority will be looking for a new path.
For every agile person stuck in a mindless corporate McJob and dreaming of escape, it has never been easier to strike out on your own.
Nearly every business, even those that were once highly capital intensive, can be started these days without raising any outside money. Factories and tools that were once prohibitively expensive to the average person are now three clicks a way on a browser.
Communication across vast distances is not only possible, but is happening right now as you read this. Teams composed of agile workers in San Francisco, Zurich, and Bangladesh can collaborate using amazing tools that were pure science fiction just a decade ago.
All without ever having to meet in person.
Unless they want to, in which case a commercial airliner can take anybody anywhere in the world for the price of a used Honda. Even the richest kings of Persia could never travel like we do today.
Technology Has Already Transformed Work
Workers in the modern world are waking up from a half-century infatuation with oversized homes, gas-guzzling cars, and status objects. We are discovering that 9 to 5 jobs do not lead to more fulfillment or more happiness or more well-being.
In fact, they can lead to quite the opposite if we aren’t creating meaning in our lives.
The nature of work is changing because of the technological revolution that we are living through right at this very moment.
This new world of work profoundly changes how we can structure our lives. But we have to be willing to discard outdated and outmoded twentieth century ideas about work and embrace the changes that are already taking root.
The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.
Be ahead of the curve. Embrace change.
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Image by Philippe Put.