The buzzword today is digitalisation. Countries and corporations are scrambling to take advantage of these new technologies to transform their processes and business. From big data, coding and artificial intelligence to 5G, digital skills are “key” to the economy of tomorrow. Although everyone needs some basic IT literacy, I don’t think it’s enough to give you the edge.
The limited shelf life of IT skills
As more people catch the wave, the penetration of IT skills within the population will increase. Eventually, these skills become commoditized and low-value like other technical skills. How does a developer differentiate him/herself if there are many others who code just as well?
Furthermore, companies are making their products and services easier to use through applying user-centric design. Low and no-code platforms empowering those without technical skills to create their own digital products are a prime example. This is analogous to the impact the Graphical User Interface (GUI) had on personal computer adoption and usage. Eventually, using good software, those without “coding skills” can do more than the developers of the software itself!
The skill for success
With these long-term trends in mind, what skill will help us adapt to changing circumstances? If we revisit our roots and history as human beings, one particular skill has stood the test of time. It is a skill universal to all cultures and drives our individual development. This is the skill of storytelling.
It’s no accident that you vividly remember bedtime stories from your childhood. Stories trigger our imagination and are a critical way for us to pass down history, culture, values and religion. It’s no accident that the Bible and other religious texts are written in a narrative form, to help aid memory and retelling.
If we look at the economy, many industries and businesses are driven by stories. Some of the best advertisements sell through engaging, relatable stories. News and social media are all about narratives, beyond dry “reporting” of facts. Finally, the entertainment industry, regardless of medium, is all about packaging and selling compelling stories.
How does this help me?
But how does this relate to your career? Am I saying you should quit your job and become a storyteller? Not quite. What I’m saying is that we need to apply this skill of storytelling to our careers. In today’s unpredictable world, we cannot follow the same stories that worked for previous generations. One-track stories like “excel in your studies”, “find and stay in a stable job” have lost their relevance and usefulness.
When faced with an unexpected lay-off or life circumstance, don’t respond like life has been derailed. Instead, look at these experiences like a storyteller, weaving the elements together into your own story. Just as any main character faces difficulties but eventually overcomes them, your setbacks are also learning opportunities. Be the star of your own career story.
Having this skill helps you face challenges and obstacles from a long-term perspective, drawing strength from your past experiences. No matter what happens, it is all part of the beautiful and unique life story you are writing for yourself. And in the end, your story will have its well-deserved good ending.