Retain Your Competitive Edge: Just Keep Swimming

Practice Management finish strong for tax season

I am an entrepreneur. Throughout my life, I’ve had to reinvent myself over and over again. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have a job. Growing up, it was the norm to have parents working in, and retiring from, the same career they started with – but those days are long gone.

I have seen many statistics about the average lifespan of a career and how many careers we go through in a lifetime. Yet, that isn’t the subject matter of this post, but rather a baseline strumming away underneath the harmony … the harmony and hum of all the technology that has become an everyday part of our lives.

During my lifetime, I’ve seen the invention of the remote control, microwave oven, cellphone, and personal and laptop computers – the list goes on and on. The quantity of technological marvels and the speed in which they are introduced is exponential. My parents and grandparents saw innovations as well, but the time in between the innovations and the adoption of technology was much slower.

Consider the telephone. In my grandparents’ time, if someone called and no one was home, the phone wasn’t answered. In my parents’ time, an answering machine would record a message that would be retrieved upon return to the machine’s location. Today, not only is the answering machine on my person at all times; so is the telephone, a direct messaging system and even a mini computer, too, all wrapped up in one incredibly tiny device.

What does all of this have to do with being and staying competitive? Everything.

The speed with which we must adopt and adapt to new technology is scary, and to be competitive, you must be able to keep up and remain adaptable and open to change.

Let’s put this into perspective, taking that same telephone example. In my youngest years, if we weren’t home, the phone wasn’t answered. A few years later, the machine picked up. Not even a decade later, the first cellphone was in my hands. And, let me emphasize this: I had some of the first consumer cellphones in my hands, the Motorola StarTAK and the Nokia 101, the week they were introduced. This technological leap was a period of 10 years between 1984-1994. Today, that’s a blink of an eye.

I have a mantra that I picked up from “Finding Nemo” that has worked very well for me: “Just keep swimming.” However, don’t get too comfortable. Things change. If you stop, settle down and get cozy, the world will change around you, sometimes overnight.

Just keep swimming. Make yourself uncomfortable and play outside your comfort zone. Explore the world and technology around you. It will not come to you. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

Here’s what you must do to remain competitive:

Learn. Get outside of your box and talk to people. Learn what moves and motivates others. Learn different ways to do the same things. Learn something new every day. Never stop asking questions.

Don’t be afraid of technology. Technology can be frustrating, but also very cool, exciting and even scary. For example, I was a bit scared when I learned about hashtags, but soon discovered they were just pound signs or number symbols. Very soon after the introduction of cellphones to the masses, I was annoyed to keep punching in all my contacts names and phone numbers on a number pad into each new cellphone I bought. By my third cellphone, I was already storing my address book on the cloud – in the 1990s.

Adopt Early. Don’t wait to see what your peers do. Be the cool kid with the new toy and own it! Like it or not, we must be ahead of the technological curve; our industry is changing – and changing faster than you can imagine.

So guess what, Mr. Grumpy Gills? When change and technology get you down … just keep swimming!

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