The future of work is being shaped right before our eyes. How are you preparing yourself for the transition and uncharted waters that lie ahead of you?

“Nobody knows.” – The answer to nearly every question asked in 2020. When it comes down to it, what do we really know? 

Where will the pandemic be at in a year from now? Will I still have a job? What does the future workplace look like? What should I be doing with my retirement accounts? Am I doing what I truly want to be doing with my career?

While I may not be qualified to answer most of these questions, I do think the discussion can be entertained in a variety of ways by simply understanding the history of downturns in an economy and how people have always found ways to innovate during a crisis. 

Don’t be fooled: There will be winners and losers in a downturn economy like this. The question is how can you make the change towards a more prosperous future and career.

Turning A Crisis Into A Springboard of Progress

The 2008 financial crisis was an event like no other, where global markets contracted and showed just how vulnerable we are to money, greed, and corporate profits. The housing bubble triggered a domino effect throughout the banking system, as banks and big financial institutions were caught in the middle because of their involvement in buying and selling risky commodities to expand their portfolios and pocket books. At the end of the collapse, major institutions like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch were all at mercy to the damage, wiping out nearly $8 trillion in value when all was said and done. 

Yet, while all of this turmoil and confusion was going on throughout the world, we also saw the birth of some of the biggest companies and industries: 

  • Ken Lin founded Credit Karma in the middle of the 2008 crisis, which is now valued at $7.1 billion. 
  • WhatsApp was created in 2009 to allow people around the world an opportunity to talk and speak to their loved ones. It later sold to Facebook for a whopping $19 billion five years later. 
  • Venmo came as a result of Iqram Magdon-Ismail and Andrew Kortina’s attempts to globalize payment structures while minimizing processing fees. 
  • Groupon was born to help companies promote their services through discounted rates during the difficult times the 2008 crisis brought at its peak. 

And just in case that wasn’t enough evidence, these times of economic turmoil and crisis yielded the birth of global enterprises such as Instagram, Uber, Pinterest, Slack, Square, and Google Ventures. 

As Bob Dylan proclaims “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” For a very good reason. 

Crises create change, and while that isn’t always a good thing if you’re invested or working in an industry that becomes irrelevant, change can always be used to your advantage when paired together with hard work and innovation. 

Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste 

Crises really bring out the true nature of people. Those who intend to do well for others find the resources to give, provide value, and grow during unprecedented times of a crisis, while others choose to take advantage and steal from those less fortunate. 

A crisis should never be left to go waste because it’s the perfect opportunity to disrupt your personal and professional life and change the trajectory of where you want to be in the next 5 to 10 years of your career. 

As Albert Einstein stated, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” 

When things get difficult is when humans start to evolve. We were built to adapt. And this is exactly what happens when we begin a new workout routine or wellness program at the gym. 

We struggle during the early stages, fatigue early during the process, and have prolonged healing times because of sore muscles and body aches. But things get easier the longer we do it, eventually leading us to feel in shape and even question the type of workouts we can handle. 

Maybe we start doing a 60 minute Zumba class? 

Or even try weight lifting 2 days a week outside of our pickup basketball games? 

What if it’s finally time to hire that trainer because you feel like you’ve hit a plateau on the treadmill? 

We can choose to change the way we look at the world and, more importantly, start to intentionally make decisions to get us closer to our life goals and dreams. While this sounds great in theory, it is far more difficult to do in reality, especially when looking down the barrel of a gun loaded with potential unknowns of credit card debt, foreclosure, and loss of income through losing a job.

Yes, all of these things are real, scary, and life changing, but nothing in life comes without sacrifice or taking massive action. 

Choosing to change your situation is very different than hoping your situation changes, as hard work and intentional action will always pay dividends down the road, even if it takes a while to see your seeds bear fruit. 

Be The Change You Wish To See In The World

If you truly want to see change, you need to make it happen through your actions. This concept can be a tough pill to swallow, especially for those who have “thought of ______ idea before”, yet have never taken action to implement it or create it into a business. No one cares that you thought of social ride sharing before Uber or Lyft did. They were the ones who took the risk to create the companies! 

Going to work is no longer just going to work. Work has completely changed as a result of the pandemic, exchanging the office atmosphere for remote desktops and in-person meetings to video conferences. And while we may not be able to physically see our peers, we can still cultivate relationships that can serve the greater good of the organization. 

Since actions will always speak louder than words, the decisions you decide to make (and not make) will guide your people and company, even when you don’t think they might notice. The human mind is quite observant and can create conclusions about situations without much thought or second guessing, which has been repeatedly tested and observed with studies by the fathers of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. The unfortunate part of this is that our initial thoughts and reactions aren’t always correct. 

While this may be a benefit to human physiology by saving us processing time and energy, it comes at an expense of potentially leading us to conclusions that may or may not be true. People may feel slighted over a simple message that wasn’t intended to ruffle any feathers. Or they may feel threatened by a poorly worded email that was meant to be polite and inviting. 

We need to be aware of our thoughts, especially during a time of crisis, as these thoughts can change the way we observe our world and alter the outcomes we’re working towards. 

In order to change the world, we must first change ourselves. 

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable 

The more we find comfort in the uncomfortable, the more we can cultivate resilience to buffer our future. Since change is inevitable, we must own it and use it to our advantage. We must seriously consider the worst possible outcomes and prepare our minds for uncertainty, while simultaneously planning for success and working toward our goals. 

The moment we become comfortable is the moment we stop pursuing, essentially halting our progress and future dividends created through our daily grind. 

Work will continue to change with the evolution of technology, social media, and consumer demands. When you become comfortable with being uncomfortable and conquer the fear of the unknown, you become limitless. Nothing can stop you in your pursuit of success because most people don’t ever make it past the starting point due to fear of failure, which is inevitable in the world of business. 

Only you can choose to change the way you do business. Take action, own your results, get ready to make mistakes, and you will see your success come sooner rather than later. 

And when you do, work will never be the same.