Manufacturers plan for obsolescence, ensuring you will have to trade in your old microwave or iron for a new one, usually just a few years after the warranty goes belly up or after you have paid for the third add-on warranty you purchased to keep the first warranty fresh. Unfortunately, human beings do not have the ability for an extended warranty unless you create your own warranty by improving yourself and your situation.
Our obsolescence comes because we talk ourselves into it. While there may be many more ways we talk ourselves into obsolescence, here are a mere six that push you there on your own volition.
The system won’t let us do this (it’s above my pay grade)
The ubiquitous “system” has a tendency to lull us into lethargy, thinking that nothing can be done because what you are asking is way above my pay grade. Often we hide behind the system because we do not want to do anything about it, and we erroneously believe that we can keep any information from getting out to the wrong hands, thus allowing us to keep control of the information. Many systems, particularly software systems, have a zillion capabilities, and we only know how to do 10 percent, not wanting to invest in learning anything more. It could be more strenuous than we have the courage for. If we do not take chances and stretch a wee bit, then we will never grow, and the system will run us.
We have done that before, and it didn’t work
Thinking that way will never let new and innovative ideas emerge. What if Thomas Edison had said that? No electricity. What if Andy Andrikopolous from Wyoming had said that after he drilled his 700th dry well? No oil. Sometimes, we have to keep on trying or trying a different way to make something happen. Persistence is just part of the equation for success and keeps you out of the obsolescence mode.
Nobody has ever done that
Perhaps not, but that does not necessarily mean it cannot be done. Entrepreneurs are constantly asking the question “What hasn’t been done before?” Or “What is needed and is currently not on the market?” and then going out and making it happen.
Why do I have do that? Can’t someone else do it?
Asking “why do I have to that?” is merely an avoidance issue because you really don’t want to do whatever is asked of you. While some may call it laziness, it may hinge on you not really knowing how to do that particular task. Instead, you feel if you ask for help, you may expose what you do not know to others. Whether it is avoidance, laziness, excuses or some other reason, they will usually relegate you to obsolescence because it shows you don’t want to grow and develop. Asking questions is good if you strive to seek out the answers that will help you improve.
This company has been around a very long time so I’m pretty safe; besides, I don’t do change
Tell that to the whaling industry when the lightbulb came into being or more recently tell that to Blockbuster when Netflix showed up or MySpace when Facebook emerged or dozens of other companies. Change will definitely happen, and it is no respecter of persons or companies. All companies are vulnerable unless they brush off the cobwebs and learn how to do business in an ever-changing ecosystem. Plus, becoming so comfortable with what you are doing may turn into complacency and obsolescence. Employees who choose not to change find themselves out the door or relegated to some job that is menial until the person decides it is beneath or beyond them and quits. Those employees who re-invent themselves will be the emerging workforce. An old adage says, “If you are not progressing, you are retrogressing.” One of your best choices is to learn new skills along the way and make yourself useful and then keep improving.
Why should I even try?
Asking this question illustrates two possibilities: 1) You are at your wits end and really do not want to try again; or 2) You just say that because you are not willing to put forth the effort. Perhaps you have experienced some negativity in previous or current jobs or you really tried and were put down until you do not even want to try and get up. If you are in that situation, it may be better for you to get out and go somewhere else. Before you go, however, be sure to upgrade your skills and be ready for your next adventure.
Becoming obsolete in the workplace can only cause pain and harm to you and your career, but learning how to be creative and inventive will propel you along the ever-changing path that will keep your head above the froth of life. Obsolescence does not become you.
An Idahoan, Darrel Hammon likes being outdoors, growing things and seeing things the way they could be. You can read more of his musings at darrelhammon.blogspot.com. He and his wife served a mission in the Caribbean Area Welfare Office.