Never Be Replaceable

I was listening to a podcast yesterday about 3D printers and I have to say...those things are crazy.

They are going to change entire industries.

For example, say you are having car issues. Soon you won’t have to go to a mechanic. Your car will tell you what is broken, send a message to your computer, and print out a new part with instructions.

And you won’t need any special knowledge to install it. Cars will be designed so that anyone can just snap the new parts into place.

So here's my question: Are you a mechanic?

If your work consists mainly of doing tasks, you should be worried. Even if your work consists mainly of solving problems, you should be worried. Technology (not just 3D printing) is automating more and more of the jobs people do.

A few of you will hear this and say, “Okay, great, I'll just learn to code. Someone needs to make the technology in the first place, right?”

Well, yes and no. Most technology today is built using other technology.

Think about WordPress, which allows anyone to make a decent website for free, without any coding knowledge. If all you know how to do is write HTML, you are no longer relevant.

And if technology doesn’t replace you, you will get replaced by someone who is willing to do more for less money. You don’t want to play that game.

The value today isn’t in problem solving, it is in problem finding (for more on this, check out Daniel Pink's To Sell Is Human).

You MUST identify a need in the first place, and take the initiative to fill that need. You MUST position your solution so that it resonates with other people (not just you). And you MUST create relationships and communities that will consistently choose your solutions over someone else’s.

This is just as true for businesses as it is for individuals.

If all you are doing is completing tasks, you are replaceable. If you can't go beyond solving problems, you are either replaceable now or you are about to be.

The secret to success is working smart, not just hard. If you want to stick around, you need to be proactive.

Otherwise you never know when the world will remove you from the car, toss you aside, and put a new part in your place.

(Photo credit: Rava via cc)

Greg Faxon

Greg Faxon, 2829 Connecticut Avenue NW (Apt 513), Washington, DC 20008, United States