A frustrated photographer recently told us that after two decades of working behind the camera and in film labs he can’t find a job because his skills are rooted in those bygone days when film was king.
Everything has gone digital, he lamented via Facebook. I don’t know Photoshop and Web design. The industry has moved away from me.
However, as the fictional Henry Drummond says in Inherit the Wind, “All motion is relative. Perhaps it is you who have moved away --- by standing still.”
Drummond wasn’t talking about career development, but we can use his point for our purposes: If you’re standing still, you’re moving backwards.
Even if you’re a master of your field at a particular point in time, innovators and technology are always conspiring to shake things up and move things in new and different directions. It’s up to each of us to ensure that our skills don’t get outdated and we don’t get left behind.
Take our photographer, for instance. Digital photography didn’t just show up out of nowhere. It was a lengthy transition that brought us from film to digital – plenty of time for someone who works in the industry to spot the trend toward digital and learn how to use the equipment and tools that come along with it. At the very least, Eastman Kodak’s 2004 departure from the film camera business should have been a big, blinking neon sign warning that the days of traditional photo labs were numbered and it was time to learn Photoshop.
Don’t miss similar signs that your industry is changing and the future will require new skills.
Stay curious about technological developments and new ideas in your industry. Get comfortable with the idea that there is always more that you can learn. Seek out new and better tools and methods of doing things. Staying current is easy these days – no matter your field, chances are there are numerous blogs that focus on it.
Being aware of what’s new in your industry is just half of it. Use the information to spot trends and determine what skills you should learn and what areas you should focus on. If you see a major change on the horizon – such as the growing popularity of digital photography, if you’re a photographer – act early to start moving in that direction.
Like technology and industries, individual workers need to march toward the future or risk becoming obsolete.