Surviving and Thriving During the ‘Great Restructuring’

One of the key themes mentioned in Deep Work is the idea of the Great Restructuring, or the re-definition of the workplace due to the advent of things like automation or artificial intelligence. 

It’s not a new concept – for years, we’ve been hearing about the oncoming shifts in the workforce, caused by everything from remote working to automation to more complex AI and robotics, and we’re starting to see real effects from all of these. And this is just the beginning –  there are more changes to come. 

This isn’t really anything new – new technologies and ways to do things have been replacing jobs and even entire industries for a long time now – and just as the workforce adapted to those, it will adapt to whatever the future brings. 

But the real question is not about how ‘the workplace’ will adapt to these changes, but how will YOU adapt to them? 

Cal Newport makes a very compelling argument that, in order to not only survive but thrive in this new economy, you’ll need to focus on developing and honing the skills that are going to make you stand out in the workforce. As the Great Restructuring continues, eventually you’re not going to be able to go into your data processing job (because it no longer exists), nor are you going to be able to make significant money doing mediocre work (because access to talent is easier now than ever). 

To succeed in the new economy, Newport argues, you’re going to need to develop new skills and new ways to demonstrate those skills, just as workers in the past did (someone had to be the first to learn typing and how to use a fax, after all), and this requires focus and concentration. 

There isn’t a ton that you can do about natural talent – for the most part, you have an inbuilt ability to do certain things and not others, and it is what it is – but you CAN influence your success in a given area by applying consistent, focused effort to learning and mastering any number of skills. And THAT will serve you better over time that any innate talent alone. 

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