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Keep Up With the Pace of Change

As a kid, I loved to play baseball. My dad taught me the right mechanics for how to throw, swing a bat and field ground balls. He learned the game from his older brothers and college coaches. His years of playing made him a good coach and his enthusiasm for the sport rubbed off on me.


As I got older, I played on Little League teams and later on I played for my high school. My dad and other coaches continued to challenge me as my abilities progressed. They gradually upped the velocity on the ground balls to stretch my reflexes and coordination as I moved left and right.  Hours of practice were fun. Fielding grounders eventually felt natural and the balls would pop off my bat in the batting cage.


However, my junior year of high school is when I hit a wall. The varsity pitchers were faster, and I was not prepared when I showed up for tryouts in the spring.  I managed to make the team but my varsity appearances were infrequent and disappointing.  I had a lot of other interests at the time, including music, so I didn’t put the extra effort into the game. Looking back, I wish I had practiced more and kept up with the pace of my teammates.  Getting glasses for my nearsightedness would have helped too, but I was vain and avoided the eye doctor.


The pace of change in technology and business is accelerating at an increasingly rapid speed. Entire industries that took hundreds of years to take hold are being disrupted. Many that were disrupters themselves, are going out of business. This week, Toys R Us, the innovator that disrupted how toys were marketed and sold, declared bankruptcy because it could not keep up with the pace of e-commerce and data-driven marketing. In fact, landing that spot on the Fortune 500 list almost certainly doesn’t guarantee long-term success with so much creative disruption and innovation taking place. Only 60 companies that were on the list in 1955 are still on the list today. That’s just 12%.


And companies are falling off the list faster than they did in the past. According to a study done by the Kaufman Foundation on Fortune 500 turnover, “in the 1980s it took just five years for one-third of the Fortune 500 to be replaced. And in the 1970s it took the entire decade to replace the Fortune 500. By contrast, in the 1950s and 1960s it took two decades.”


When it comes to the individual worker, we are told by Future of Work experts and studies that many of today’s jobs won’t exist in ten or twenty years. Forbes even outlines some of the jobs that the country will be losing as a result of automation and other technological advancements.


This leaves us with the question, how do you keep up with the pace of change as an individual in a fast-changing world? Here are five tips that I based on my teenage baseball experience.


  1. Pick One Game to Master – It’s hard to be a generalist these days. Pick an industry that you can be passionate about. If you do, you will be more willing to invest your time and efforts into becoming a great player in a great industry.


  1. Commit to One Team – Make sure you’re in the right organization. Examine the leadership. Surround yourself with committed people and immerse yourself in a culture that values collaboration and great results for the people they serve.


  1. Pick One Position to Master – The craft you choose may be finance, HR, customer service, product development or research. Consume the best sources of knowledge to keep up with innovation. Get rid of other information distractors and time wasters. Apply your learning to your position so you can be increasingly effective.


  1. Get the Right Equipment – Each industry and each position has an ever-expanding array of tools to improve your skills and effectiveness. Find which tools work for you.  If you need glasses, go get them.


  1. Practice to Keep Up – Challenge yourself to get better at your position. Think about each new day as a day to learn and apply something new.  It’s good to cross-train in a collaborative way with a multi-disciplinary team.  Just make sure you have something valuable to offer your teammates.


If you apply these tips consistently in your work life, you will enjoy the game a whole lot more – and win more often, too.

Marketing Agency Blog Post Author of Keep Up With the Pace of Change

March 13, 2018
Written by Tom Sullivan

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