You’re Not a Machine. Stop Acting Like One.
2020 has been hard.
Many lost their jobs—and it wasn’t due to performance. And they’re struggling to find another one. Even the people who’ve kept their jobs don’t know when they’ll get thrown under the bus.
LinkedIn is flooded with status updates like:
“It’s sad that employers don’t appreciate my stable career with 13 years of experience.”
“Don’t ignore this post. Like, comment, and share it so someone in your network will see it and give me a job.”
“I’ve completed the AI/ML training program and received my certification.”
It pains me to read them. Here’s why.
By posting such status updates, employees convey to employers, “These are my credentials. Decide where I fit in your company. I’ll do whatever you want me to.”
When you ask employers to tell you what to do, you inadvertently compete against machines. And machines are better than you at doing what they’re told. They can do it faster and more efficiently, and they don’t need a pay hike.
Can you win against a machine?
Think about it. Can you beat a washing machine at laundry? Or win against a calculator at mathematical calculations? Or decide what content your audience should see real-time faster than an algorithm?
Asking your employer to tell you what to do also means you give them the power to dictate your life. What you should work on, how much you should get paid, how long you should work… everything.
They’ll use you for as long as they need. Then, like a machine, you’ll get replaced when a better, cheaper alternative becomes available.
Machines were made to take orders, to work twelve hours a day with a few short breaks. Not humans. We command them. We tell them what to do.
Employers don’t want people for machines’ tasks. They want people for people’s tasks. Like interpreting and presenting data in meaningful, actionable ways. Like helping a company achieve its goals.
Your experience and certifications highlight your past. They mean little to employers if you cannot help them secure what they care about—their future.
Waiting for instructions and permission is similar to working like a machine.
Can you work like a human?
Can you put on your thinking hat instead of outsourcing the thinking to your bosses, media, and authority figures?
Can you take initiative on projects that push you outside your comfort zone and teach you new skills?
Can you show employers how you can manage the functions they lack the expertise on, and how it will contribute to their goals?
In an ocean of people saying, “Tell me what to do next,” can you be the voice that says, “Here’s what we should do next,” and compel people to listen?
When employers recognize the value you can add to them, you’ll become valuable to them. Rules will get bent, designations will get created, and budgets will get extended for you.
Robots steal jobs, and create them.
Technology has been making jobs obsolete for millennia. At the same time, it has constantly improved the quality of our lives. It has provided us with comfort and created new, more meaningful jobs.
The phone made the telegram obsolete. But it improved communications and spawned jobs in engineering, software, and medicine.
Appliances like dishwashers, mixers, and vacuum cleaners reduced the time women spent in household chores which, in turn, let them enter the workforce.
The automobile made horse carriages obsolete. But it didn’t just speed up transport; it also reduced widespread diseases that resulted from horse carcasses and droppings.
Each time, the people who tried to compete with technology lost out. The people who leveraged tech to make progress, gained.
We’re not in a war against machines. Not yet. Don’t turn it into one.
Machines will do what you want and employers will hire you for your expertise if you learn to use your most valuable asset—your mind.
Start taking decisions instead of waiting for orders. Go out there and create your own path. You have the tools. You only need the willpower.
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