After moderating a technology panel for a Christian men’s group, one of the men from the group came up to me afterwards. He was an older guy working in the technology field and felt as if he was getting left behind at work. The new guys were energetic and skilled and it seemed their ability to adapt was far beyond his. His concern left him thinking it was only a matter of time before his job and career would end.
As we all know, technology has the tendency to change so quickly it can be difficult keeping up. I remember in our marketing agency, this was a similar tension we faced. We offered a portfolio of digital marketing services in areas which were constantly changing. When we started, Myspace was still an important facet of a digital marketing campaign. Over the 7 years in business, the space changed and we seemed to always be falling behind the technological curve.
The beauty of getting left behind is how it taught us to respond in these situations. These four strategies will help equip you for these seasons of your life.
Priorities: What Matters Most?
There is always something new and there are always pioneers to explore the new. The more I was not pioneering, the more I learned I did not always have to be the pioneer. In some ways, pioneering was a part of my identity, but after the brutality of the role, I begin to rethink it. Pioneers have a tendency to get beat up and when we do it too often, it burns us out.
It is acceptable for us to stay back and be willing to learn from the pioneers when we are not able to be one. We don’t have to explore every new thing. We can rest assured time will filter out what is new and good and what is new and bad. When Google Wave launched, I never joined and eventually it was shut down. When Google Plus came out, it was two years later before I setup an account and starting using it. In this case, it worked out to my benefit to wait.
When we have a choice between the seemingly infinite options of exploration, let’s choose the option which helps us succeed. This will require we say no to most ideas so we can say yes to what matters most. Time is limited, let’s respond accordingly.
Build Relationships, They Matter More
What I found to be worse than falling behind in technology and trends is falling behind in relationships. Looking back, we spent too much time chasing technology and our chase resulted in neglected team and client relationships. Ideally we want to maintain both, but when it comes to priorities, I believe the relationship is far more important. Clients will be more forgiving when we don’t know about the latest widget and tool when we have a strong relationship.
The other key for us to realize is while we may feel like we are falling behind in our area of work, the reality is our client is likely further behind us. To them, we are the pioneer. We worked primarily in the home service industry (Construction, Real Estate, etc…) and our clients were a decade behind the mainstream marketing trends. While companies focused on the latest, our clients attempted to understand what a website was and how it helped them. We met them where they were and spent the time to teach and bring them along.
On the flip-side, we might experience team members who are ahead of us. It is in these opportunities we can humble ourselves and ask them to teach us. By building strong team relationships, others can help carry the burden when we can’t carry it ourselves.
Whether we are ahead or behind, building strong relationships can equip us to face the challenges in these situations.
Be An Expert In Filling The Gap
There are always opportunities to help and improve. When we look around our business we see what works, what is broken and what is missing. For many, they choose to see and not act, but it is those who see these gaps and choose to act who are valuable. These types of experts are always desired and rare to find.
Someone who searches for and fill gaps can be far more valuable than the most talented person in the company. Finding and filling gaps requires a willingness to go above and beyond our call of duty and it requires more work of us. Opportunities are in front of us, let’s choose to be the leader who finds these gaps and fills them.
Think Bigger And Become An Authority
When we felt like we were falling behind in our business, we began to shift towards a strategic mindset in our offerings. Our focus was on strategy. Regardless of how technology changed, we always knew this skill would be valuable.
In the ancient book, the Art of War, we learn about strategies of war. These same strategies of war are applicable today. In fact, many of the principles are applicable to business. When we can implement strategies almost two thousand years later, it indicates strategy is a long term focus with longevity.
So, we spent time and resources to become an expert in strategy. Our intent was to become an authority and while difficult, it was rewarding. As we experience seasons of falling behind, let’s decide to think bigger and see the battlefield from a strategic angle.
How about you? What strategies have you learned to adopt when falling behind?