Surviving the 21st century, a professional’s survival guide (Part -1)

“The more things change… the more they remain the same”

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

The essence of success or even survival as a specie or as an individual has been –and will be – staying relevant in the bigger scheme of things – the human race being no exception, our tools and methods of ensuring survival may have become more sophisticated over the years but their primary objective remain the same. Of course our stated objectives are oft coated with a veneer of civility like say “making a difference” or “creating value” for the society, but stripped of all its niceties all these terms are euphemism for the basic survivalist instinct of staying relevant. It is for this reason capitalism has – and probably will – remain the essentially organic all encompassing philosophy that transcends all geo-political and socio economic barriers.

In all possibility even Bertrand Russell had no idea how right he was when he said “knowledge is power”. If there is a single golden rule for staying relevant in today’s world it is to stay with if not ahead of the knowledge curve – a task that is becoming increasingly challenging given the exponential rate of change the world has seen almost on all fronts. By obvious extrapolation it follows that the quality of education one obtains is becoming an issue of ever increasing importance.

In a world of changing success paradigms, the definition of a “quality education” has also metamorphosed into something with more “survivalist” connotations. Academics, researchers and professionals can no longer be insulated in their glass houses from the hitherto murky world of real world business diktats; neither can degrees continue to be a piece of paper that gives them a starting advantage over their contemporaries. Fresh graduates no longer have the luxury of a “honeymoon” period. In this day and age the business world demands market ready professionals who can hit the ground running and start delivering from day one. Among the lucky who survive the challenge of course is to stay relevant.

Positions, jobs or even departments are constantly being rendered redundant and to paraphrase Charles Dickens “these may be the best of times, but not certainly the worst of times”. The obvious solution is to stay mobile. Mobility has become the buzzword crucial to the survival as a professional in today’s world, mobility that is not just guaranteed by ones nationality – but by ones competencies and perceived contributions to the global business model as a professional.

Depending on one’s perspective (east or west) one of the biggest flip sides to the story of globalization – albeit unintended – has been the free flow of high end trained labor across markets, whereas this has brought many of the former economic powerhouses to their knees – as their pampered denizens fight for their “overpriced and underworked” way of life – it is no secret that it has opened up a whole new vista of opportunities for a select sector of trained manpower within the “third world countries” – with somewhat mercenary ethics.

But as with everything there is a dark lining to this silver cloud, as complacency sets in, the “nouveau rich” breed of third world professionals run the risk of falling into the same trap of easy money as their western counterparts and -keeping with the laws of business – run the risk of being made redundant once they outlive their utility cycle. For as with technology – skills and knowledge come with a lifespan as well.

So stay relevant by staying ahead of the knowledge curve. How? Read the follow up article…

Read Part -2

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