When you opened your eyes today, a part of you became irrelevant. As harsh as it sounds, it is true. It is true to you, me and every human on the planet.
This is not a new thing that started happening a few years ago, but it is something that now happens more often. The speed of life in any dimension is going at a pace that can sometimes feel overwhelming. Imagine you are a cup full of water, filled to the top. At the bottom of the cup there is a small opening that allows, one drop at a time, to empty the liquid inside. In order to keep the cup full, two things could happen: you keep filling the cup or you stop the leak. Simple. Which option would you choose? Would your response change if the liquid that you have inside my cup is not water?
My life has been surrounded by technology since I was a little kid. I love technology, it is part of my DNA. I took my first programming course when I was 12 years old. I had a blast. I was the only kid around a group of grown ups. We learned flow diagrams and Basic programming language (stop trying to figure out my age). At the end of the course I was proud of everything I learned and not so proud to be the only one that cried during class ( I lost my lunch money and cried like a kid, oh wait I was a kid. More important, every single one in the class put money out of their pocket and bought me lunch. I will never forget that). My experience in that course made me fall in love with technology and taught me the power of teams.
There is one thing you should notice. Both of the key things that I learned in that course (flow diagrams on paper and basic programming language) are irrelevant now and they have been irrelevant for quite a while. Another story.
Fast forward, my first meaningful job in technology was when I accepted to take the director of networking and infrastructure role at a Financial Institution. My task was to refresh the network to allow the bank to scale vertically (more offices and branches) and horizontally (more products and services). I implemented the first Gigabit network at the time in the region and setup an infrastructure that allowed the bank to grow for the next 5 to 8-ish years. Although I’m incredibly proud of that project, that doesn’t change the fact that everything I did for that role in that bank is now irrelevant. That’s right. If I share this story with someone with the same role in this new era of technology, the answer might be along the lines of: so what? Now I can deploy an application anywhere in the world and i don’t have to worry about the infrastructure capacity, scale and growth. I just leverage the cloud for that.
I learned through this and other similar experiences that not only being irrelevant is part of life, but that we should embrace it in order to grow. Back to the cup analogy, being irrelevant is like having your cup empty. However, it is not a full/empty cup game we are playing here, there are infinite shades of gray in the middle. The important thing is that you take control on how the liquid is going out of your cup at pace that can you allow new liquid to pour in while always having a full, or close to full,cup.
My area of expertise, nowadays, is transformation. My focus is to help companies transform their business models and technology capabilities, but also help people transform their careers and lives as a result of that. Wether transformation impacts the world, your industry, your company, your role or yourself, you have to be ready to embrace it. But in order to be ready you need to master the game of letting go (deliberately becoming irrelevant) and taking in (delivery learning something new).
I would say that 90% (if not more) of my job is not about technology. It is about people. It is very common to find people resisting the transformation that is happening. They are stuck in their past experiences, treasuring them and using them to define not only their careers, but even defining themselves as human beings. They are basically sealing the cup from both sides, top and bottom. No new liquid can come in and no old liquid can come out. If you are curious on what is the result of doing that, fill a bottle with any liquid (including water) seal it and let it sit for a month or more in your backyard. You will find that water will transform into unusable water to the extend that it is not drinkable anymore. The same happens to our own bodies, they all need mechanisms for intake and exhaust.
In conclusion, one true fact still stands: Every morning you wake up and guess what? Some part of you is irrelevant now. The holds true even if you decide not to see it or accept it. This is all about self-awareness. The faster you realize it, the better your chances to succeed. But wait, not all is negative here. Being irrelevant is actually a blessing in disguise. Being irrelevant opens up the opportunity to learn, explore, discover, wonder, imagine. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for to redesign your business, to redefine your career or even reinvent yourself. It is the opportunity for a fresh start.
In part II of this post, we will talk about the amazing opportunity of being irrelevant and how pairing with taking ownership of your time is the right formula to transform your life, your career, and to be the change that will make this world a better place.