Just What is Critical Thinking?
- The ability to analyze the way you think.
- A self-directed way of thinking using high standards of excellence.
- A systematic, methodical approach to problem-solving.
- The ability to think independently.
- The ability to separate rational arguments from emotional ones.
Why is Critical Thinking Important to Me?
- Identify a bad or false argument.
- Build and present good arguments.
- Think better and more clearly.
- Develop the ability to see things in new and different ways.
- Question the status quo.
Here is the challenge. The human brain does not think logically. It makes most of its decisions on emotion and/or preconceived ideas. Having made a decision, people then go back and justify it with logic. What’s worse is once a person has made a decision they will defend it to the death, no matter how wrong it turns out to be.
How Can I Learn to be a Better Thinker?
The first blog post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ) I listed the top ten skills necessary if you are to triumph in the ongoing upheaval in the worldwide job market. Today, I want to discuss the #3 skill, Creativity.
Why is Creativity so Important?
There is one simple reason why creativity as a skill is so much in demand. Robots and software technology can’t do it. Here is one area where human beings can beat the bots. Every time.
Freelancers need this skill to solve problems with new programs and procedures. Clients and different departments implementing new programs and services will require new solutions to problems that arise.
I have a favorite saying I think sums up the need for creativity in the business world. It comes from General George Patton, the famous tank corps commander in World War II. “The best battle plan in the world isn’t worth a damn after the first shot is fired.”
General Dwight Eisenhower also weighed in on this subject when he said, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.”
Freelancers know this. When it all goes to hell, you’re going to have to get creative and think your way out of it.
How Can You Define Creativity?
I admit this is hard. Creativity is one of those things that everyone knows when they see it, but find it difficult to define.
Let’s take a shot at it. Creativity is:
- The ability to think outside the box.
- Coming up with something that’s never been done before.
- Applying old methods in new ways.
- Perceiving the world in new ways.
There are more. Here is a link taking you to a Copyblogger Post with 21 different definitions of creativity ( http://bit.ly/2jEEKTH ). (Hint… the list starts about halfway through the post).
Can I learn to be more creative?
How many times have you heard it? “I’m just not a creative person.”
Wanna bet? Actually, we all start out being very creative, and then we unlearn it. In 1968, a man by the name of George Land devised a test to measure creativity ( http://bit.ly/2ykJSzE ). He then gave the test to 1600 children, age 3 to 5 years, enrolled in a Head Start Program. The results were amazing. The 5-year-old kids scored 98% on the creativity test. He retested the same kids 15 years later. Guess where they scored? 12%. Adults given the same test scored 2%.
This means our society is teaching us to unlearn creativity.
So it’s really not an issue of learning to be more creative. It’s remembering how to be as creative as we once were.
The common misconception is that creativity belongs to artists, writers, musicians, and maybe a few computer geeks. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all creative. Like all skills, it is one where proficiency is gained by practice.
Remember the old joke? A kid carrying a violin case goes up to a cop in New York City and asks, “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?” The cop looks at the kid and says, “Practice, practice, practice.”
The best part is improving creativity is fun. A lot of fun.
I’m Sold. Where Can I go to Learn?
Online of course. Google “Learn to be Creative.” You’ll get more than a million results.
Now as for books? One of the best I have ever read on this subject is “The Artists Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” by Julia Cameron. I read this book when it first came out over 25 years ago when I wanted to begin developing my writing skills. I have reread at least 3 times since then. Don’t be put off by the title. This book is considered the seminal book on creativity. It’s for people in every walk of life seeking to enhance their creativity skills. There is also a great workbook that goes along with it I would recommend as well.
I have included links below if you would like to get these outstanding books. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)
In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 skills critical to your success as a Freelancer in the growing upheaval of the worldwide job market. Today I’m going to discuss Emotional Intelligence, #6 in the series.
Emotional Intelligence is Important Because?
It is one of the essentials of leadership (there’s that word again). Yes, as a future Freelancer, you are expected to be a good leader. Part of your job will be the bringing together of disparate groups who need to get along if your projects are going to succeed. In order to do this, you need to develop your Emotional Intelligence skills.
Emotional Intelligence (also referred to as EI in this post) is linked to your own success. Studies show 90% of top performers are high in EI.
Emotional Intelligence also leads to personal happiness and achievement.
4 Core Skills Comprise EI
Self Awareness is defined as the ability to perceive our own emotions and your reactions in given situations.
What gets you excited? What angers or frustrates you? How and when do you show your emotions? How does showing your emotions affect others? In what ways?
Knowing how you react emotionally in any given situation and staying aware of those emotions as they happen is the key here.
Here is the best definition of self-management I have found. It’s the first two lines of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If”. “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”
Self-management is the ability to stay calm, cool, and collected. Not allowing others to derail, distract, or disrupt your leadership in any given situation.
Social awareness is the ability to pick up on how other people feel and why they feel that way.
It’s also developing a high sense of empathy which is the ability to understand the other person’s situation. Add to this, the ability to meet the needs of clients and customers.
Relationship management is bringing it all together. It’s the ability to listen to all sides, using your awareness of your own and others emotions to reach agreement. It’s applying creativity to a collaborative decision so that decisions are made from the bottom up. It’s also using clear communication to resolve conflict and build lasting bonds.
Relationships develop over time by frequency and depth of contact with others. The idea here is to build networks of individuals you can use to further your Freelancing practice, and better serve your clients.
Where Can I Learn About Improving My EI?
If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know the first place I always start is with books. Start with Amazon, your local bookstore, or your local library. One excellent book on the subject I found is Ian Tuhovsky’s Emotional Intelligence. It’s an excellent guide to understanding and improving your EI. There are also some nice freebies at the end. I’ve included a link below if you’d like to order this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)
Check online for courses. If you Google “Courses in Emotional Intelligence”, you’ll find everything from University Courses leading to leadership certification to seminars to free online training.
When Should I Start?
Today! The upheaval in the world job market is already underway. Software technology and robots are replacing people at an ever increasing pace. Forbes estimates 50% of the labor force will be Freelancers by 2020 ( http://bit.ly/2tfLsjq ). This is good news for you, but only if you act now so you are ready to take advantage of the shift.
One more thing. If you’d like to read the full text of Rudyard Kipling’s Poem IF, click here ( http://bit.ly/2irfa3X ). Ladies I apologize in advance for the poem’s tilt toward the male gender. Kipling wrote it in 1895 when social norms were far different
In my original blog in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm), I said there were 10 skills critical to your future success in the coming turbulent job market. Today I want to discuss skill # 7, judgment and decision-making.
The Importance of Judgment & Decision-Making Skills
Futurist Thomas Frey estimates 2 Billion (that’s Billion with a capital B) jobs will be lost by 2030 worldwide. (http://bit.ly/2w4whhN) Those jobs will be lost to robots and software technology. There will also be lots of new jobs created. But…the new jobs will require a skill robots and software don’t have. Human judgment and making the decisions arising out of those judgments.
Your job as a future Freelancer will be to make those judgments and decisions for your clients. And…this will be one of the most sought after skills.
You could be called upon to decide:
- Whether a program or service will even work for your client.
- If the program or service is desirable, how will it be integrated?
- What departments or divisions will fill new roles?
- What existing jobs may be eliminated or repurposed?
- Who will be responsible for the maintenance and updating of the new programs?
As you can see, the possibilities are almost endless.
Please define Judgment and Decision-Making
Judgment is the ability to evaluate a situation as objectively as possible. Typically this will involve:
- Defining the challenge or opportunity
- Coming up with a list of possible solutions.
- Listing pros and cons of each solution.
Decision-Making is: Choosing a solution and implementing it.
Sounds simple, right?
Ah, if it were only that easy.
There are a few other elements involved, such as:
- Taking risks
- Having the courage to put a decision into play
- Admitting you’re wrong if it doesn’t work.
- Gathering feedback to try again.
Often This Whole Process is Defined as Leadership
“Wait a minute!” I hear you say. “If I’m a Freelancer, why do I have to be a leader?”
Any one who has ever been in the military will tell you; leaders exist at every level. From the smallest unit of 3 people, to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, someone is always in charge.
As a Freelancer, you will be responsible for integrating and coordinating many things. That means you will be leading. You should be confident in your ability to do research, implement it, and manage conflict amongst others. You need to be a keen observer, able to spot difficulties early before they grow into a crisis. This requires an action orientation and an assumption of risk.
The distressing part of this whole thing is that research shows most people make decisions based on emotion. Then they try to justify that decision with logic.
It will be up to you to show your clients a better way.
Where Can I go to Learn About Judgment?
Lots of places. As always, there are books. One of the best I have found is by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis titled Judgment, How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls. This book deals mainly with senior leadership in large organizations. It is still a good tutorial for developing the skills needed for good judgment. Plus, there’s a nifty handbook included at the end. There is a link below if you would like to buy this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)
There are also lots of courses available. Just Google “Decision-Making Courses” and a ton of choices will come up.
Finally, there’s plain old everyday practice. We all make decisions. Lots of them, every single day. Some turn out well, others not so much. Analyze the good ones. What did you do right? Learn from the bad ones. What could you have done better or differently?
The important thing is to start now. The better you are, the more prepared you will be when that Freelancing opportunity appears.
In the first blog in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm), I discussed the upheaval in the world job market. Many jobs will be lost, but many will be gained. Projections are that by 2020, a mere three years from now, 50% of the labor force will consist of Freelancers. Today in this countdown series I am discussing the number 9 skill Freelancers will need to fill these yet to be created jobs. Negotiation!
Exactly What is Negotiation?
When we think of negotiating, what comes to mind? Haggling over a used car or a piece of real estate? Beating the other guy down so you get a fantastic deal?
The popular view of negotiating is that it is a win-lose deal. If you win, the other guy loses and vice-versa
The truth is good negotiating is about achieving a win-win for everyone involved. We all engage in negotiations almost every day whether we realize it or not. Anytime people seek to agree on a task or a concept or a subject there is negotiating involved. Negotiation is simply the process of achieving agreement on issues that leaves all parties satisfied with the results.
Why is Negotiating so Important?
As a Freelancer, good negotiation skills are crucial to your success. The first place you will use this skill is negotiating your fees with your new clients. Freelancers are typically very well paid, and you want to be able to negotiate top dollar for your services.
Then think about having to negotiate between departments inside your corporate client to achieve the goals you were hired to produce.
How about negotiating to bring your client together with other companies to install a new process or system.
Where Can I Learn to Negotiate?
Lots of places. And…it’s not as hard as you think. All it takes, in the beginning, is some thought and preplanning. You will find as you practice the process it becomes almost second nature to you.
There are lots of books. One I just read is “Never Split the Difference.” (See the link below). This is an excellent book written by Chris Voss, an FBI profiler. He starts every chapter with a real life negotiating experience from his long FBI career. This is a very readable book, with basic negotiating techniques clearly explained. This book is only one of many on the subject.
There are many online courses offered by colleges and universities. A quick search will find them for you.
Google is also an excellent source. Google “Learning Negotiation” and you get more than 6 million results to choose from.
When Should I Start?
Now! Even if you think you are a good negotiator, you can always learn more. This job upheaval is already well under way and will only continue to accelerate. Freelancing is the job of the future. Start now to acquire these 10 skills needed to fill jobs not yet invented. If you do, you will be ready to launch your career as a well-paid Freelancer.
Here is the link to Never Split the Difference. Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.
In my recent blog on the great opportunities for Freelancers arising out of the rising chaos in the world job market (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I promised a thorough discussion of the 10 skills crucial to your success you’ll need to develop in the next few years. The countdown is on. Here is skill #10, Cognitive Flexibility
What the heck is Cognitive Flexibility?
Cognitive Flexibility is a term used by psychologists to describe the ability to shift quickly from one concept to another. The easiest way to describe it is to think of switching channels on your TV. Suppose you have a tennis match on one channel and a college football game on another. As you switch back and forth, your mind must quickly adjust to a different set of rules, play, and circumstances. People who are not cognitively flexible find this difficult. It takes them a few minutes or longer before they can engage in the events happening on the new channel.
Why is this so important?
Millions of jobs are going to disappear in the next few years. But, there will also be lots of new jobs created. The problem is those jobs haven’t been invented yet. What types of jobs are these? Data analysts who can help decipher the huge amount of data generated by the internet of things. Specialized sales reps who can explain new products and services to customers and clients. Managers and consultants who can help steer companies through this process.
If you are a Freelancer filling one of these functions, you will need cognitive flexibility. You may be working for more than one company. Company A may be playing tennis. Company B, playing football.
Even if you’re working for one company, Department A could be playing soccer, while Department B…well, you see where this is going.
How Can I Learn Cognitive Flexibility?
There are several things you can do to improve cognitive flexibility
- Read – Reading stimulates several areas of the brain simultaneously. The more complex the subject, the better. Add to this by making notes as you go.
- Play games. Lots of games. Word games, crossword puzzles, chess. There are lots of online games that will get you thinking.
- Make lists of different wild and wonderful ways to accomplish the same thing.
- Try breaking big topics down into chunks.
Keep going with these activities until you feel you can easily switch topics without losing a beat. It’s easier than you think and can be a lot of fun.
Here is your challenge: The rise of technology is already eliminating jobs at an ever increasing pace. As this trend accelerates, workers will be displaced in two directions. Those who are unprepared will be pushed out into lower paying jobs. Those who start now developing the 10 critical skills essential to Freelancing will find themselves positioned to succeed in jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. And…at much higher compensation.
Which one are you?
There are huge career opportunities opening up in today’s world economy. And…the good news is these opportunities are yours for the taking.
“What’s the catch?” you ask. There always has to be a catch, right?
The catch is you have to be prepared to grab one of these opportunities. Plus, you have to do the preparation work on your own. Our education system isn’t teaching any courses on how to qualify for these jobs.
Just what is this wonderful, can’t miss opportunity?
Huh? Chaos? Are you kidding me?
No, I’m not. Remember, where there is chaos, there is always opportunity. Now is no different than any time in the past.
Here’s what’s happening. The World Economic forum estimates losses of 7.1 million jobs due to automation and technology between 2015 and 2020. http://bit.ly/2ubfHLc Two-thirds of these job losses will be concentrated in office and administrative roles. Many more will be in manufacturing and production.
Further, many of the jobs that remain will need skill sets that current workers don’t have. This means many of the displaced workers will be forced into lower paying jobs.
This doesn’t sound like an opportunity to me
It is, but you have to ready to seize it. And you have to start now.
In his great book, The End of Jobs, author Taylor Pearson notes the following:
- Somewhere around the year 2000, we began to transition out of the knowledge economy.
- There is a shift underway from knowledge to Entrepreneurship. Why? Because entrepreneurs are better equipped to deal with complex and chaotic situations
- The dominant institution is shifting away from corporations and towards individuals.
- The dominant player is no longer the corporate CEO, but moving toward the Entrepreneur.
- The winners in these shifts are those who invest early in the trend.
(If you would like to buy a copy of this terrific book click on the link below)
This shift is already underway. Forbes estimates that by 2020, 50 percent of the labor force will be Freelancers. http://bit.ly/2tfLsjq
How do I get in on this?
Start now. Today. Here are the top 10 skills listed by the World Economic Forum Freelancers and Entrepreneurs will need by 2020:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical Thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others.
- Emotional Intelligence
- Judgment and decision making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
Rate yourself on these skills. I can hear you now, “Crap, I’m no good at any of that stuff.” Yes, you are! You just don’t realize it. And…what you don’t know, you can learn.
Like it or not, if you want to succeed in the coming years, you have to embark on a course of lifelong learning. Get good at these 10 skills and you’ll be ready for jobs that haven’t been invented yet.
I’ll be exploring this topic over the next few weeks. I’ll be taking each of the skills shown above and exploring how you can become more proficient at them. Just like the old David Letterman “Top Countdowns”, I’ll be starting with #10 and counting down to #1. So, stay tuned.
Click here to buy Taylor Pearson’s The End of Jobs. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)
One of the latest trends in business today is the rise of Freelancers. If you are not preparing to join this trend, you should be. Here is a great post from INC. explaining why.
Why Freelancing Will Be Part of Nearly Everyone’s Future
Whether you’re hiring or getting hired, plenty of evidence points to a future workforce which looks much different than it does today.
CREDIT: Getty Images
Much has been written about the gig economy–a future in which traditional full-time jobs are displaced by mostly short-term contracts or freelance work. But whether or not the rise of freelancing will be a bad or good thing is certainly debatable. The New York Timesrecently published an op-ed piece titled “The Gig Economy’s False Promise,” while a Wired headline reads “The Gig Economy: The Force That Could Save the American Worker?” Regardless of your feelings on the subject, plenty of evidence points to a future workforce which looks much different than it does today. That’s according to Stephen DeWitt, CEO of Work Market, an enterprise-class platform for the management of contract and freelance talent. Here are his thoughts about why freelancing will touch nearly everyone in the years to come, whether you’re looking for help, or getting hired yourself.
1. Many crystal balls are showing the gig economy to be a real thing.
More than 55 million people–about 35 percent of the U.S. workforce–did some kind of freelance work last year. Experts agree this number will only continue to climb. According to the Intuit 2020 Report (PDF) in just a few years traditional employment will no longer be the status quo. More than 80 percent of large companies say they will be significantly increasing their use of flexible workers. And, the number of contingent workers–freelancers, temps, part-time workers and contractors–will exceed 40 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020.
2. Companies are trying to solve for inefficiencies and labor spend.
It’s because technology advancements and consumer behaviors are accelerating. Now more than ever, it is critical for businesses to keep an agile workforce at the ready to compete in the face of digital disruption, and quickly execute powerful, unforeseen opportunities in real time. But, if a company hires 100 people who are only utilized 50 percent of the time, it’s a 50 percent waste in labor. “It’s like how the cloud completely transformed the way we buy networking and storage,” DeWitt says. “We used to buy a server and saw it was only 50 percent used. It took companies like Amazon to turn that into something they could sell.”
3. A world in which freelancers have benefits is entirely possible.
Currently, a lack of affordable health insurance means even full-time employees are paying more for–or going without–health insurance. And while freelancers have traditionally been on the hook for their own medical, dental and retirement plans, in the future these on-demand workers could have more choices. What if benefits for freelancers were funded similarly to how invisible taxes at the fuel pump pay for road construction? “Our current labor system is so outrageously inefficient, both in terms of the market as well as policy, that the elimination of a lot of that inefficiency makes the system capable of investing into the social safety net,” he says. “In a world with the right policy that is more automated and efficient, with a significant reduction in middle-men, it would be very easy to tax every transaction in a freelancer dynamic.” Ideally, he says, workers could access such revenue from a savings account for benefits, with employers also paying into the pot.
4. Getting work as a freelancer is dead simple.
Cloud-based platforms which connect freelancers with clients are widely available and inexpensive to use. “Every business will have access to every worker and it will be only separated by search.,” he says. “The middle operators that have historically defined how the workforce is accessed are going away.”
5. Millennials, the largest living generation, want flexibility.
They may engage on a full-time basis, on a six-month project, for an hour, or for a five-minute gig. These are people who have grown up with a smartphone within reach at all times. They crave immediacy, novelty and connection. Working at a company for a decade is something none of them will likely be doing. “When Millennials think about their careers the expectations are so much greater in terms of the experience, the automation, the data that’s at their fingertips,” he says. “Anything other than that is frustrating.”
You have a 4-year college degree. You’ve got a good job working for a company. You are ascending the corporate ladder. You think your future looks bright.
Here is an inconvenient truth. Your college degree is only the beginning. If you are to be successful in this new and changing economy, you must continue learning new things for the rest of your life. And…you’re on your own.
Our modern Colleges and Universities are busy educating students to work at a job for some type of organization. What happens to you if those jobs are no longer there.
There are two trends under way right now that pose huge challenges to almost every worker in the U. S. Economy.
Number 1: The Rise of Robots and Technology
The current political mantra peddled in the media today is that globalization and foreign trade are causing huge losses in the U. S. Job market.
It isn’t true.
Yes, the U. S. Economy lost manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010. But, studies reveal that 87% of those job losses were due to improvements in productivity generated by technology. ( http://ow.ly/IQTn30cMTh1 )
It gets worse. According to Futurist, Thomas Frey, ( http://ow.ly/Ax3z30cOxnM ), there are 2 billion (yes, that’s Billion) jobs disappearing by the year 2030. That represents 50% of all the jobs on the planet. To be done by robots and new software technology.
Number 2: The Rise of Freelancers
According to Forbes Magazine ( http://ow.ly/zGDB30cOxQi ) there are 53,000,000 freelancers in the U. S. Labor force today. By 2020, 50% of the labor force will be freelancers. 50%!
Even big companies like IBM and NASA are starting to do this today.( http://ow.ly/pNev30cWysR)
Does this mean we’ll all be unemployed?
No! And this is not meant to be a doomsday report. But, it is intended to be a wake-up call. Almost every job holder in America is going to be affected by these trends. Knowing what’s coming gives you an opportunity to be prepared. Fore warned is fore armed.
Here is the good news.
First, Robots will not replace everyone. There will still be plenty of jobs for humans, but they are going to change.
According to a report published by the Pew Research Center (http://ow.ly/poHm30cOz7R ), there is an argument that, “many jobs require uniquely human characteristics such as empathy, creativity, judgment, or critical thinking—and that jobs of this nature will never succumb to widespread automation.”
This is where the new jobs will come from. Those jobs don’t exist today. And…the chances are they will be taken by Freelancers. I believe Freelancing is the career of the future.
How do I do That?
Yes, I know the idea of becoming a Freelancer can be frightening. The first time I went out on my own it was 1983. I was totally unprepared emotionally. I panicked when I realized I was no longer getting a paycheck. The project didn’t go well at all. I eventually went back to working for a big company.
Today it’s different. If you educate yourself and prepare emotionally, you should be fine. Our economy is rapidly becoming a “gig” economy. That means you will be working from one gig to the next.
You should start by educating yourself.
The Advantages of Lifelong Learning.
Let’s start with what you are doing now. I am going to assume you like the job and industry you are in. You have spent years learning about it and you are good at what you do.
What are the aspects of your job or industry segment that could be automated? Think about all the repetitive grunt work that could be done by a robot or a computer software program. Think hard about the people that could be replaced. Get wild with it.
Now, what are the aspects of your job that need human contact? What about judgment? Listening to customers, clients, or other departments? Deciding how to improve the computer programs? What about creativity? Thinking up new ways for the software programs to accomplish new things? Consulting with companies on picking the latest technology to use?
How many people could be displaced?
Make a list.
Go to the Library. Use databases at the library to find research papers.
Go to Amazon. Get books.
Google trade magazines, white papers, and case studies.
Find MOOCs (Massive, Open, On-line, Courses) in your field and take them.
You have to become the expert in how companies in your industry are going to employ the latest technology. Because when the changes start to come, it won’t be just the company you are working for now. It will be every company in your industry. If you are a Freelancer, you can hire out to lots of them. At a very good price.
And…you can’t stop. Freelancers have to be involved in lifelong learning. You have to stay ahead of the curve. You have to keep reading, keep thinking, keep interacting with other Freelancers in your field.
It is estimated now that the entire body of human knowledge is doubling every 13 months ( http://ow.ly/Tg6J30cWD7v ). IBM estimates that in the near future, this doubling will occur every 12 minutes.
It’s All up to you
Here is your challenge. It’s up to you. You have to do this on your own.
You must start today. If you wait, you’ll be one of those out on the street wondering what the hell happened.
You can’t go to school for this. Our education system is woefully behind on these issues. They don’t have classes for jobs that don’t exist today. Creating those classes could be your one of your jobs.
There are huge opportunities here. If you start now, think now, read books and papers now, develop ideas now, you’ll be the one getting the well-paid gigs.
It’s a race. And to the victor belongs the spoils.