Human skills will matter more

What a year 2023 was, with the seeming decline in human skills. Early on we heard a lot about the new Barbie movie, then the conversation turned to war and finally our war with the machines: Artificial Intelligence (AI). I need to smack myself as a reminder to stop falling for the same old media tricks. I tuned into the news once too often and I began to chase shiny new objects in my own business.

Something funny happened while I was learning how to fight this AI terminator that’s coming to take our jobs. I started to feel more like a machine myself. I began to lose many of the human skills that I profess are essential.

Almost perfect content

As my creative writing gave way to keyword research, generating outlines to guide my structure and writing compelling content in my tone of choice… I realised the content I produced was almost perfect. Except it wasn’t human. Instead of writing about topics that spoke to me, I was writing what I was told would perform well, according to Google.

My human skills

My wife can easily pick out what I write versus AI, even if I edit the AI version. Why? An article I write from scratch has a few of my own stories, my sense of humour and my unique take on things. And readers like people they can relate to. I’m not suggesting it’s better than something AI writes, from a technical point of view, but more of my personality shines through. You’ll need to ask my wife (or my readers) of that’s a good thing!

Creating amazing content

Blue ocean content

When I use technology to tell me what’s already popular and to help me write, I miss the opportunity to create great content or share original ideas. No one will ever hear my authentic voice and my unique perspective, or yours, if we continue writing this way. We will never take a risk and share our best ideas, unless we use more of our human skills. We will be lost in an ocean of sameness, which is a crappy place to be if you’re a business owner.

Stuck in a loop

There’s another downside to allowing technology to dictate what we do. Algorithms on social media platforms feed us what excites us or upsets us the most because they want us to react with a like, share or comment. This keeps us in a kind of echo chamber, where the world (or at least the online world) revolves around us.

When we listen to music, read books or watch movies on online devices, the software remembers our preferences and suggests “more like this”. As Richardo Semler (hailed by Tim Ferriss as the Godfather of Work Life Balance) explains in the video below, we are losing our ability to experience new things. In other words it’s getting harder to be spontaneous or surprise ourselves. Then one day we will stop experiencing new things.

One of the human skills we’re losing rapidly is our ability to make decisions. My wife will likely tell you how difficult it can be for us to decide on a movie together or what to have for dinner. However, the decisions I’m talking about are bigger and more impactful. Now we’re using big data to help us make decisions about our work, investments, even government policy. Using big data to support or assist in those decisions is fine but we must never empower the technology to make those decisions. Humans must be the ones to decide and, as uncomfortable as it might feel, be held accountable.

How to get different

I’ve previously written about the importance of creating a unique value proposition in your business. Seth Godin wrote a popular book about the similar concept of standing out by being remarkable; titled Purple Cow. Mike Michalowicz wrote a book about making your business stand out by being different; titled Get Different.

If you want to get different, you need to create unique content, and that takes guts. After all, it seems like even our politicians ae constantly swayed by the opinion of the day on Facebook. Businesses are encouraged to follow the cause of the day, rather than choose their own cause and support something they are truly passionate about.

80 20 content

Leadership is having the guts to be a lone voice or share an idea that hasn’t started trending yet. I’ve previously written about the 80 20 rule. On page 113 of Richard Koch’s book, The 80 20 Manager, he speaks of making courageous decisions as one of the hacks managers can use to potentially achieve exponential results. Of course, it may not always work out that way.

My commitment is to make time to do more of what I love in 2024. That means writing more of my own unique, original content, from the heart. Some people don’t like writing blog posts and that’s fine. But I love it, which is why I am going to commit to more of it. I’m going to share more of my journey too.

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Outstanding content

Tony Robbins taught us there’s people who perform poorly, people who do good work and people who do excellent work. We live in a world where people expect a minimum of excellent. So, what we need to do, as business owners, to exceed those expectations is become outstanding. It’s just one small step up from excellent.

“The difference in people is their standards” -Tony Robbins

Instead of using technology to replace our human skills, we need to use it to enhance those skills. We need to harness the power of technology to help us achieve a higher standard. I think the following quote I printed in my first book still applies:

“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master”
-Christian Lange

I was listening to a podcast episode of Entrepreneurs on Fire only days ago, when the host John Lee Dumas (JLD) was talking about his “Freedom Journal”. Experts told him he was approaching his wrong way because he wanted gold edged pages, a satin bookmark and leather cover. JLD went ahead with it anyway and sold over $450,000 worth of “Freedom Journals” in his first 30 days.

As JLD’s guest, Dan Miller said, there is a meaning of success beyond money. JLD had a vision of the joy his buyers would experience when they opened a high quality leather bound journal, instead of a cheap looking notebook.

What’s in store for your 2024?

We’re in a world of rapid change and each year from 2020 seems like a decade in itself. What have you done in 2023 that you’re most proud of? What would you do differently next time? And what will you commit to for sure in 2024? In a world of cheap and nasty knock offs, how will you light the way and be more of your authentic self?

I’m on a mission to create the kind of business I’ve always wanted to work for. A business I would be proud to work for, even if it wasn’t my own. That’s why I need to create a business that finds the balance between technology and human skills. While technology may aid us, people must be the ones to lead the way.

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