Just As Certain as Death and Taxes: Change.

People hate change. I don’t blame us, who wants to change? That stubborn stagnation does keep us from spiraling out of control. Yet, to grow requires change.

So, without change, life itself would cease to exist. I’m just going to throw out a theory that change is needed to keep up with our expanding universe (making some general assumptions about causality here), maybe to reach an equilibrium or something…but I’m no physicist.

I was always used to technology changing, but in the last half a decade or so, it feels like the rate of change has really kicked up a notch. I went overseas to graduate school to bury my head in academia. When I finished a year later, ready to get back into the work force, it was very clear things had shifted. I felt like I had time-traveled into the future, and suddenly all around me there were coding schools that allowed students to become coders through immersive course work and projects. The new mainstream path to becoming a programmer had changed completely, and it was available to everybody! I also knew that this was something I had to stay on top of, because it really resonated with me. I had been secretly eye-balling what was once known as “Hacker School”, despite consciously making an effort to get into the nonprofit and social policy sectors at the time. And here I am, now, taking the online version of the full-stack developer program at the Flatiron School. w00t! (Do they even say that anymore?) FTW!

Other things interesting of note was that while working at a consultancy, building custom applications under tight deadlines, we naturally adopted a lot of agile and scrum methodologies. Except back then, I was a “Data Analyst”. In a similar fashion, when I was a “Finance Manager”, I was the sole technology person on my team. Since I understood the finance tool, I served as the liaison to the technology team to build out the online tool that covered the whole spectrum of product development including the layout and usability for the global team. A decade later, these roles have evolved to become more specialized, and descriptors like Agile, Lean UI and UX have evolved to be more distinct and intentional.

But even in change, there are patterns (perhaps more on this later), and we needn’t balk at all the perpetual extra work required to keep up, and some of it’s natural and organic anyway. But keeping up is becoming ever more crucial, especially in the fields that technology touches (which is pretty much everything). There is now this concept called the Adaptability Quotient (AQ) to surface alongside the well known Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and its brethren, Emotional Quotient (EQ). AQ may just be a new catch-all term that would probably describe someone who can just roll with the punches, if the said punches were rapid technology automation replacing workers in a competitive market economy, bombarded in the media by polarizing politics, general iffy attitudes about immigration, amongst other things. (Even this is constantly cycling through time: ‘What Do You Think Is the Most Important Problem Facing This Country Today?’)

I think this post about Why Adaptability is More Important Than IQ and EQ addresses this phenomenon with good equanimity for people whom change brings about a sudden onset of panic. Everyone will be covered, so as long as our government remembers that it’s not jobs that we want to protect, but rather, our workers. Put simply: if your company isn’t training you with the right skills to keep up, take matters into your own hands to do it. Here’s a helpful 4 Steps to Develop Your AQ. If you are having trouble finding the mental wherewithal to tackle all of this, especially for those of us who are churchless, a step into Taoism or Zen can serve you well. Here’s an article that talks about the distinctions to start you off: Zen minus Buddhism equals Taoism.

ASIDE: I also quite liked this post for many reasons, one of which is this awesome polar-grizzly bear.

This post on Tackling AI-driven job displacement: A Primer discusses solutions and reminds us to stay proactive, since change is inevitable. Yet, amidst all the frenzy to keep up, we must also not forget that new knowledge cannot be accumulated without mastering the basics. And finally, it’s always important to look at the dates of articles and blogs, but this somewhat dated post about the end of coding humbly reminds me I’ve got ways to go, so keep learning!

Going back to my speculation of the technology/biology inverse relationship, I’m going to suggest that if technology out-paces biology in change, brain power (or some alien force) is our only savior. When the machines outsmart us, we will be doomed for sure!