I have a client who recently said to me that they felt washed up and unable to compete. He is an industry leader in the entertainment business, however his particular area of the business is somewhat technical, and as a result he feels that the technology has moved, and he's been left behind.
He worries that he'll be marginalized, fears the obscurity that all in the entertainment world have to battle almost daily, and sees this as a mid life crisis that will end his career. To be yesterdays news is to be no news at all.
In an act of desperation he found himself in a car showroom being sold a bright red sports car, in an effort to recapture his youthful glory. Hence the picture. Pictured beside the Ford GT, if you can draw your he car for one moment, is Bambie, one of our therapists specializing in psychology of mid life changes. She's working on her Phd at present, and supporting her sick baby brother in Prince Edward Island. Honest!
“How can I go back to scratch and start all over again?” he asked me.
“Well, you don't need to,” I replied.
“It took me years to get up to the top. I can't face doing that all over again! The new software is baffling to me. How can I compete?”
“That's probably what everyone else is saying about now, as well,” I pointed out.
My client was distraught at the thought that he'd be just where he was twenty years ago, but with a wife, a mortgage and a labrador. Of course, he won't be. However, in the immediate light of panic, it can seem that way. Time to step back and take a moment to breath.
The reality is that in the intervening twenty years of working in a highly competitive field, my client had learned a heap of skills he had no idea he possessed. The very skills that propelled him to the front of a tough business all those years ago would be the ones that would lift him further still.
Anyone who's worked in a field for more than a few years starts to assimilate knowledge and experience very rapidly. Much faster than someone starting out for the first time. For example, you'll know which people in the industry are worth paying attention to, you'll know which employers or suppliers to cultivate. You develop a nose for success. Perhaps you'll face some changing technologies, but in the end it's the fundamentals that win out.
The original skills of creativity, tenacity and being committed to excellence are the skills that take people to the front of the pack. Those are the skills that got him to the front originally, and will be what keeps him there in future. You can change the program, the technology and the logo, but in the end the fundamentals are what really count. Whether you hire the skills in, learn them yourself, or simply delegate the work out, the fundamentals are the wellspring from which brilliance emerges.
As they say, “Quality never goes out of style.”