Abraham Maslow lists security as a basic human need, equivalent to food and sleep. Security is a wonderful thing to have, and most of us like to think that we have some measure of job security, if only due to the loyalty of our employers. Oxford University has assessed the likelihood of job automation, and the researchers have calculated that as many as 35% of jobs in the UK - and probably more in countries with high numbers of unskilled workers - are at risk of automation in the next twenty-five years.
So the bad news is this: if your job is repetitive and simple to code, it will probably be automated before the end of your working lifetime. The good news is that there is a very small set of skills - four, to be exact - that will effectively insure you and your career against the robot revolution.
The number one advantage that humans have over computers/robots is that we can create, and do it in very unique ways. Algorithms can be written to create catchy headlines, and render the person loading content onto Twitter redundant. However, if the person tweeting builds the content they share around creativity and innovation, they have out-performed the machines.
Engineers should be safe from automation, since a large part of their job involves making something where there was nothing, or coming up with an innovative solution to a complex problem. Likewise mechanics' skill lies in their resourcefulness and creative problem-solving. It might be faster to have robots perfor a pitstop most of the time, but at least one pitstop per race goes awry, leaving the mechanics to devise a strategy on the fly. This need to perform creative tasks under pressure puts robots at a disadvantage compared to humans.
It could even be argued that racing driving - currently under threat from initiatives like RoboRace - is safe from automation, because an algorithm can make a car go around a track in the fastest time possible with no errors, but race craft - the art of predicting a competitor's moves, finding where the weak spots are, exploiting a momentary hesitation - is highly creative and therefore very hard to code. Racing algorithm-driven cars would be very dull and processional to watch.
While basic news stories can be automated, this isn't terrible news for journalists. People would likely stop reading websites that put up only computer-generated content. A race review, for example, can be storified from highly rated tweets, but a feature piece or op-ed can't. Those require far more creativity than is possible to program into an algorithm.
Empathy is the ability to be fully present with someone else's struggle. That is, to perceive - correctly, we hope, if one has a broad emotional lexicon - what another person is thinking and feeling, connect to a similar experience in our own lives, and express understanding. This skill is the basic building block of connection. Without empathy, authentic connection is impossible.
Connection between brands and their consumers is increasingly important in the modern economy. In order to motivate people to buy from one particular brand over all its competitors, the customer needs to feel connected to that brand. For example, I buy Gillette shaving products because 1) they sponsor several athletes I support, and 2) their parent company P&G were vocally supportive of same-sex marriage in America, and therefore I like their politics. If Schick said anything about same-sex marriage, the message passed me by.
Gary Vaynerchuk talks about empathising with what the customer wants when coming up with marketing strategies. This is an important factor in the evolution of motorsport. Fans support drivers and/or teams for mostly irrational reasons. I tend to support racers I could hold a stimulating conversation with and would feel safe leaving my drink in their care if I needed to walk away from it in the bar.
Empathy is a central skill to most jobs involving people contact. Waiting staff will likely be automated, but nobody would consistently watch interviews performed by a robot. Journalists develop a rapport with racers over time, and this shows through in the kinds of questions they ask. Neil Gaiman has said that, when interviewing, one gets the best results when one asks the questions the interviewer (and therefore we assume the audience as well) really want to know the answers to. Knowing what the audience wants to know requires a high degree of empathy.
If you're in a niche field, or your job involves fine motor dexterity, chances are, you'll excape the invasion of the machines. Automation is only cost-effective if the technology can be rolled out across a wide variety of functions. Thus, an expert in a field that caters to a relatively small niche is unlikely to be automated. It's just not viable to spend millions on R&D creating a machine to replace a small group of humans who cost $50,000-100,000 per year each. Creating a machine that replaces millions of low-skill minimum-wage jobs is far more cost effective.
Fine motor functions are notoriously hard to code into a robotic device. It's not impossible, but very difficult and expensive to produce, especially on a scale where it would threaten an entire profession's existence. Let's consider people who produce car parts, by way of an example. Each person has a fairly specific brief, requiring a limited number of fine motor tasks. It might be possible to produce a machine to replace each person, but difficult to roll out across the industry, because each team would need to acquire a piece of kit worth several millions to replace a single human. Even before we consider the amount of creativity that goes into fabricating the parts that make up a car, it's a loss for the robots on cost grounds.
Becoming an expert in the technologies that come in to automate other jobs is a safe bet, career-wise. There was a time before companies had IT departments; now everybody has at least one geek on staff to fix the computers when they break. Likewise, nobody other than organisations like NASA and MIT has robotics departments at the moment. As more jobs are mechanised, robotics experts could find themselves in high demand.
Jobs with automatable skill-sets are likely to shrink to a single manager supervising a computer's work. For example, a large accounting department will likely be reduced to one or a small group of accountants monitoring the outputs of the virtual bookkeepers. While we can program computers and robots to do most of the mundane tasks, a human still needs to check for errors.
When the traffic light pitstop system came into Formula One, there were several incidents involving early releases and other technical glitches with the machinery. The release signal was changed from an algorithm to a simple button that a human could press, and the problems mostly stopped. It was the factor of human judgement and decision-making that was important in avoiding incidents. The front jack operator is unlikely to be automated any time soon.
How many of the 'safe' categories does your job incorporate? Is there a way you can build more of the above skills into your work life to ensure your career longevity? Leave a comment below!
Happy Valentine's Day! Today is traditionally the day on which we celebrate romantic love, because of a variety of stories about a guy named Valentin. Depending on which story you buy, he was either a saint or a rogue. Either way, he was martyred for love (and, if you believe the stories, exhumed by his followers to give him a proper burial), and we celebrate his contribution every year.
There is a greater love than the one you'll have with your partner, though. It's the relationship you'll have with someone you've known all your life, the person who's with you every minute of every day. Yourself.
A lot has been written about self-esteem and self-image, and those are good things. But they rely on you being exceptional at something. What if you're not at the top at the moment? What happens to all those buzzy feelings of self-esteem then?
It's been said that self-compassion and self-love are far more important than self-esteem and self-image. Compassion and love are possible in moments when high esteem isn't. Compassion and love are states of being, patterns of thinking, ways of relating on a daily basis.
When you've just been sacked, esteem isn't possible, but love and compassion are. Same goes for the depressed spell after you lose a major sponsor, or find out you didn't get the job/drive/promotion/scholarship/place at uni, or when a relationship ends. I can guarantee that, at some point, you'll experience one of those low moments.
Self-love can only come from compassion, acceptance – even accepting the quirks, failures, and things you've been told are 'wrong' with you – and forgiveness. Think about it, you can't love someone you're holding a grudge against. If you're holding a grudge against yourself for things that happened in the past, you're going to really struggle to love yourself.
So, how do we go about building a solid sense of self-love and self-compassion? The problem is there's no easy three-step plan to loving yourself. There are no hacks for this, and it's not a skill-set any of us were taught in school or our families of origin. That said, here are a few actions you can take when the going gets tough to put yourself on the road to self-love.
Can you name the feelings you're feeling in the aftermath of an upset? Write them down, even if the closest description you can come up with is 'that feeling where I don't know whether to scream, or smash a face, or crawl under the sofa to cry.' Obviously, the closer you can get to the name of an emotion, the better, because you can read up on how to deal with it. The goal here is simply to understand what is happening in your head, and give yourself the space to acknowledge it. Whatever you do, don't bury it, because emotion buried is always buried alive, and it festers. Is there a connection with something you think about yourself, the other person, or the situation? How does it impact what you do?
Like understanding, this includes an element of non-judgement. Try avoid value judgements like 'good' or 'bad;' it is what it is. Fully acknowledge the facts of the situation – the facts, not the conspiracy theories or confabulations (when you fill in missing data with something false you believe to be true) you've told yourself. And yes, we're all prone to thinking conspiracy theories and confabulations. How can you own this incident as part of the ongoing story of your life? If you don't own your story, it will own you, and acceptance of the facts is the first step to owning your story.
Okay, so you're not perfect...do you know anyone who is? Let go of the blame. Sure, you would've, should've, could've done something differently. Maybe it's someone else whose woulda-shoulda-coulda is the reason things went wrong. But hanging onto that blame doesn't allow you to move forward; it'll keep you stuck right where you are, growing bitter roots into that situation. Brene Brown has a saying that goes along the lines of 'talk to yourself like you'd talk to someone you love'. Think of your best friend...would you ever say to him/her 'You're such an idiot; you could've done that so much better' when they're having a time about it? No. Without getting stuck in a rut, how can you be sensitive to your distress and alleviate your pain?
WHAT YOU LOVE
Is there something you love doing? Something that fills you with ecstasy, and draws you to a place where you feel spiritual. It could be racing, or writing Supernatural fanfiction, or making models of race cars, or hiking through the wilderness, or dancing around the house in your underpants and singing into a hairbrush. Maybe you're a multipotentialite and have several things that make you feel transcendent, and that's okay too. The point is to do it every day, or every weekend, or as often as humanly possible. It's something you do for you, regardless of whether people think it's cool.
WHERE YOU CAME FROM
Look back over the last few years. What have you learned in that time that's helping you right now? What changes have you made in yourself for the better? How much better are you dealing with this situation now than you would've dealt with it in the past? You have made progress. You've grown as a person. You will continue to grow; whether you like it or not, we're never done growing.
WHAT YOU BRING
I know you bring something of real value to the people who know you. Write that down, setting aside the cynical voice who tells you they only love you because they get [something superficial] from you. If you're struggling to come up with a proper list, ask people you trust who love you. Refer to this list when you feel down, remembering that they love you for a reason.
There's nothing to stretch your confidence muscles like going somewhere alone. If you've never done it before, start with a solo trip to the movies before you set off to travel South Asia on your own. The point is to spend time with yourself. Most of us do everything in pairs or groups for safety reasons. While it's wise to look after your personal safety, it's also important to go somewhere without needing the constant affirmation of selfie-ing for social media, or taking a gang of friends. If you feel lonely doing this, ask yourself why. Alone doesn't need to feel lonely.
The above-mentioned activities are a small part of all that you can do for self-love. If you feel like you need a permission slip to do some of the things, ping one of our social media accounts or email email@example.com. We'd love to help you out if you need a push in this area. We've been there, and understand how important it is to love oneself in order to reach out and take those big, dangerous steps. We're here to support you.
We are starting a series called Soulcare Sundays. Every Sunday evening, we will post about a topic that's relevant to the community's emotional/spiritual well-being. Here's Brij to kick it off...
A lot of people move countries for motorsport – mostly to do their dream jobs, but there are other reasons people move – but few people talk about how stressful it is. Moving countries is commonly listed as one of the top ten most stressful thing you can do. It's not listed by Holmes and Rahe, but if you count up the number of life changes involved, it pushes your personal stress score pretty high. So, as seasoned relocaters, we decided to put together a handy guide to ease your transition from home country to destination country.
1.Research, Research, Research
Before you leave your homeland, do research about your destination country. Learn the basics of the language, or you'll find, as Fernando Alonso put it when describing his move to the UK, 'the supermarket was not easy.' Learn about the food traditions, because there will be products from your homeland that are unavailable; lessen the shock before you arrive. Learn about the differences in manners between your homeland and destination country to avoid offending the new friends you make. Learn about how the local government and legal system works to avoid accidentally breaking the law – no two countries have identical constitutions, so there will be some unexpected bans.
2.Make New Friends ASAP
One of the overriding feelings reported by people who move countries is loneliness and isolation. Almost everyone who knows your story has been left behind, and you have few, if any, people with whom you have subtext in your friendships. The best way to mitigate this is to get stuck into a number of different crews immediately upon your arrival. Find a gym crew to work out with. Find a community of faith who share your values to bring a little bit of 'home' feeling back into your life. Get to know the regulars at your local watering hole – although, fair warning, barflies aren't usually the most reliable friends. Find people with whom you have common ground, so you feel slightly less alien in your new environment.
3.Have A Strong Routine
At some point in your first few months, the honeymoon period will wear off. You'll find yourself in the winter of the soul, wondering why you thought moving was a good idea. You'll be genuinely homesick, and completely lack motivation to get out of bed. If you have a strong routine – even better if other people are involved in your routine – you'll have more motivation to overcome the inevitable depression. Moving countries with a stash of anti-anxiety medication won't help; the depression is a normal part of moving. The only way to move through it is to maintain a feeling of connectedness, most effectively achieved by spending time with your new friends and allowing them to offer you comfort.
4.Take Mementoes From Your Old Life
Never underestimate the comfort afforded by photos of family and friends back home, by old favourite books, and by gifts you were given by people dear to you. Make space for these in your luggage allowance. If you moved and left them behind, ask someone to mail them to you. The things you want may surprise you, but remember that this is part of self-care and survival.
There will be some days when all you want is chocolate and a good cry. Save your 'sick days' from work, your midnight Skype calls, and your social currency for those occasions. Speak to yourself like you would speak to someone you love who was having a hard time. Ask for help. Don't try Viking your way through it, or you will inevitably end up burnt out and ready to hop on the first plane home, leaving your shiny new life behind.
Remember why you moved in the first place. It can be easy to lose sight of the good in the inevitable depression that hits after the honeymoon phase in your destination country has worn off. However, if you can keep your eyes on the reasons you relocated, you will eventually move through the darkness and find yourself rewarded with new roots, and stories your friends from school don't have. Your CV will be stronger for living abroad, learning new languages, and getting different experience to your peers. Moving countries is always worthwhile, and a very rewarding adventure, even though there are days when the point of it all will evade you. If you have any other advice for surviving moving countries, add it in the comments below.