Are you planning for “When”, or “Just in Case”?

What millennials should see coming…

Millennials should have a healthy fear of disruption but I don’t think that’s the case. I fear that many young professionals LOVE being disruptor’s, but will not take being disrupted very well.

As someone who technically checks the millennial box it’s easy to feel (at times) like I’m a part of a business revolution — infiltrating companies from all angles. Most businesses publications come out with articles on how to manage and work with millennials regularly — from my perspective it’s not hard to understand why so many have an heir of confidence that is perhaps unfounded, and at worst, dangerous. After all, history repeats itself and I’ve failed to see evidence that today’s sharing economy has found an antidote from our “learning from our mistakes” disease.

Here’s what we might want to fear a little:

#1 — Evolution hasn’t changed. Why would we be so bold as to think that the sharing economy, social media, and the new structures of the business world are the top of the mountain? It’s absolutely not, and it’s completely reckless to believe this to be true. Our networks, groups, handles, etc. will be obsolete in the near future. Add to that a generation of new employees who know the new technology better than we do and you may begin to see a problem with this poorly-placed confidence.

#2 — The future is scary. I mean really, really scary. As a generation we may have mastered using our opposable thumbs, but we are woefully unequipped to integrate the technologies that will be commonplace in 15 years (i.e. when the next generation comes around). Look at the advancements in virtual reality, artificial intelligence and healthcare. The bleeding edge of these technologies is enough to keep you up at night — and the ramifications of mass adoption of these technologies are unbelievable — like a computer in your pocket was not so long ago..

#3 — The rate of change is excellerating — If the generation before us was ill-prepared for our arrival in the conference room, we will be even less prepared for the generation that follows us. The rate of change is increasing, and therefore the advancements and differences between us and the next will be even more profound & come at us even faster.

What we need to focus on are systems and connections. Today’s technology won’t matter 5–8 years from now. If you’re trying to master or make a career out of it, know that you have 5–8 years before you need a new plan. Technology aside, our ways of connecting, engaging, sharing, and socializing with other individuals is a long game. Know how to carry yourself, share, comment and generally live in a connected world. This means you have to learn how to communicate through your writing. Too many people misunderstand the phrase “everyone is a writer” with the dictionary definition. Communicate. That foundation needs to be sound and seamless from professional to personal life. YOU work for a company — your resume or linkedin profile does not.

As Seth Godin notes, we cannot “out obey” our competition. The world markets have found places that are more compliant for far less money — we simply cannot compete. What we can do is out problem-solve, out lead- and innovate faster and smarter. We need to recognize the systems that support markets before others do. Once we recognize the systems — we need to think critically about the system. Is it good or bad? Can it scale? Would it apply to another market? How could it be simpler? Who benefits, who loses?

As I move from a business professional with my head buried in a screen to a business professional with my head buried in children’s books, it becomes apparent that the style sheet is still relevant. Humility, honestly, and transparency are deadly when combined with critical thinking and some healthy skepticism. Overconfidence is driving drunk. The truth is that I will be disrupted — it’s not a “just in case” preparation but rather a “when”. We plan for “when” differently than we plan for “just in case”.