AI can’t do this part of your job

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There are so many exciting things happening in the space of AI. How we work and do things is changing and shifting as AI can do some of the tasks better and faster than humans can. There’s also a lot of uncertainty of what that means to each of us and our jobs. Join us this week and we talk about what part of your job AI won’t be able to replicate and why focusing on that part is even more important. Listen and learn. Mentioned on the show this week:
  • Book: Hidden Potential by Adam Grant
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Hey y’all, how you doing? Okay, it is peak busy season for many of you out there. The holidays are crazy, not just at home with travel and making plans and figuring out logistics, but at work. It can be an especially busy time as this is our peak season for many of you listening. So if that is you, or even if that’s not you, I want you to know you’re doing a good job. Enough people probably aren’t telling you that. You’re probably not getting acknowledged for the extra hours you’re putting in, for the issues you’re finding and resolving without anyone knowing, for the extra effort you’re putting in to make sure everything’s ready and on time. And I want you to know that you are known, you are seen, we appreciate what you’re doing, and I hope you’re appreciating the effort you’re giving for yourself as well.

 

And my other thing I want you to know is it’s okay to take a little break. It’s okay to not get back online and work tonight. I know you, I talked to many of you, and you know that logically, but it doesn’t feel safe, and emotionally you’re going to tell yourself you’re not going to, but we all know you’re going to jump back online and just finish that thing before you get into the office tomorrow.

 

My challenge to you this week is to not take tonight. The most important thing you can do is take tonight to yourself. Watch a show, connect with people that you love, do something artistic, go outside, go to bed early, take a bath, whatever it is you want to do. But tonight, the most important thing you can get done to set you up for success tomorrow morning is to take tonight for you. Come on, do it. You will not regret it.

 

Alright, today I want to talk about AI. And I don’t think AI, no matter what job you do, is ever going to be able to completely take over your work. Many of you listening to this may even work in the AI space, and I love you, and please keep doing it. I love AI and the things that it’s making easier and solving for us and the capabilities it has. And I think there’s a lot of excitement around it and also some uncertainty and doom and gloom around it.

 

Now, full transparency, I am not an expert in this industry, in this field at all. But what I want to offer to you today is a way you could think about AI that isn’t this scary “it’s going to take over, we’re not going to have jobs, they’re going to take over the world, and terrible horrible things are going to happen” that just doesn’t feel good to me. And if we’re scared and freaked out about it, this is when we’re going to start fighting, we’re going to start trying to overcontrol things, and it just doesn’t end well. I think we’re more likely to set ourselves up for success and to learn through some mistakes and to make sure we’re doing the right things for humans as we continue to grow AI if we come at this from a space where we’re not scared.

 

So what I want to offer to you today is to think about how can AI actually help your job versus hurt your job. I will also note, you may hear some squeaking in the background, that’s just my little dog, little Millie here. She’s recording this podcast with me, um, and so you might hear some squeaks, but you know, she’s my buddy.

 

This week, I’m going to let it roll, and if you’re watching this on YouTube, you might see her pop in and out of the video.

 

Okay, so I attended a conference a while back where Malcolm Gladwell was a speaker. He’s a very world-renowned famous researcher, author, someone I really respect and like and follow, and I’m always trying to learn from his insights. And at this conference, um, at the end, there was kind of a Q&A session, and someone asked him what was his take on AI taking over the job industry. Most of the people that were attending this conference were what we classify as blue-collar workers. They were HVAC employees or homebuilders or farmers or these types of things. And it’s a legitimate concern that folks have, that AI is going to take over their job. And I really loved his response. He talked a lot about AI is amazing, but it will never fully take over people’s jobs. The work we do may shift and change a little, but there’s always going to be a need for humans. He gave the example of doctors, for example. They may not be in the operating room doing as much actual surgery if there’s machines and robots that are going to do it with more precision and more accuracy, and their job may shift a little bit from being in surgery as much to focus more on patient care and preventative care and working with the patient and helping them understand what’s happening and doing things to help reduce complications after the surgery, right? So there’s still going to be a need for doctors. Some of the day-to-day work may or may not shift.

 

So I’ve been thinking about this. That conference was eight months ago, give or take, and I kind of had this aha moment this week as I was out for a walk and I was listening to an audiobook by Adam Grant called “Hidden Potential.” It’s a new book that just came out. If you haven’t read it or it’s not on your list, I highly recommend it. Like, the psychology nerd in me is obsessed with it, and I cannot get enough with it. I’m almost done, and I will probably listen to it again a few more times once I finished it. There’s so many good hidden gems in it.

 

And what Adam Grant was talking about in his book, and as I was thinking about what Malcolm Gladwell said and how AI plays into all of this, there’s a couple of things that stuck out that I want to share with you today.

 

So as Malcolm Gladwell was mentioning, the work we actually do may shift, but there’s still going to be a need for it. So in my space, I use AI, but in a very elementary,  simplistic way of trying to use it to help me as I write a lot of copy and content for the work I do. And I always think of one of my most favorite humans I had the chance to work with who was an amazing copywriter. Let’s just say her name is Erica because it is. So, Erica, if you’re listening, this one’s for you.

 

Erica is not only like an amazing human, a great coworker, fun attitude, like just a good person, she’s brilliant at copyrighting. I work with her in a setting where we needed to write communication in multiple languages to over a million people about really boring operational things, like here’s how you access the network, here’s what’s changing with our passwords, right? Like, not fun exciting human emotional driven things. A lot of it was like how-to steps, okay? And Erica was brilliant at what she did. She was able to come into a meeting, hear the chaotic ideas of everyone, get clear on the steps, on all the variables of those steps, and create these beautiful communication packages, like just brilliant at what she does.

 

So as I’m thinking about AI and I’m dabbling and using it to help write some of that copy that I’m like, I want to hire Erica one day to help do, AI is able to do some of that. So as I was listening to Adam Grant’s book, there was a light bulb that went off that I was like, oh, okay, I can see how this would apply in Erica’s world potentially. So Adam talks about, he says, personality is who you are every day, character is who you are when you have a hard day. So I do believe we’re born with certain personality, some of us are naturally more extroverted or introverted, or more social or more outgoing, or more confident or more shy, like, and that doesn’t mean you can’t change those things, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck, it doesn’t mean any of them are better or worse, I think we’re just born with different innate traits where we naturally are inclined to act a certain way or respond a certain way in some situations, and that’s just part of our everyday personality, right?

 

But he says character is who you are on the hard days. So I think people that aren’t working on their character development and they blame their personality of like, well, that’s just not who I am, or I’m just not comfortable with that, right? We use that as an excuse. You know you’re in this space of not developing character when you have a hard day and you need to go out and get high or you need to go get drunk or you need to go eat too much or you need to escape somehow or you just totally shut down or you just, like, yell and scream and can’t deal with it and have a little bit of an adult temper tantrum, you know you’re working on your character development when you have a hard day and you know how to let yourself have a hard day and you don’t do things to an extreme. Maybe you do go and drink some alcohol or eat some things, but you’re not doing it in this intense way to escape. Maybe you’re going to go and go spend some time outside, you’re going to connect with people, you’re going to love your body, and maybe you are going to go to bed or take a nap and give it rest because that’s what it needs, not because you need to escape everything, you’re going to put food in it that feels good and fuels your body, you’re going to focus on coming up with a plan, you’re going to allow yourself to cry and be sad, you’re going to take a break, but when you take that break because you had a hard day, you’re doing things that give yourself space to rest and rejuvenate yourself, you’re not doing it to, like, stew in the mess and the hardness of it, right?

 

Personality is who you are every day, character is who you are when you have a hard day. So when we think about character, a lot of times people bring up, like, soft skills versus hard skills in a work setting in particular. But it was interesting Adam talks about this in his book and I was doing a little research myself, the term hard skills and soft skills actually comes from, some training in the US Army in the early 1970s, and they classified these skills, not because hard skills were more important or needed to be focused on or what they really needed out of people, it literally was a classification of a hard skill was a skill needed to operate on machinery, so like on literal physical objects. Soft skills were the interpersonal skills needed to be able to do that and function in a team as well. I just thought it was interesting that it literally hard was like the physical form of the type of skill needed. It’s not that one is more important, it’s not that you need to go to school and get all the training and the letters after your name because that’s what’s important and that’s what’s going to get you ahead, it literally was a mix of both things were required, but in order to set the teams up for success and set people up for success, they classified them into these two different categories.

 

So when we think about character, a lot of times it falls into this soft skill of interpersonal skills. But again, they’re not more important or less important than knowing how to do the quote-unquote hard skills of your job. Working on your character requires working on both of those things.

 

Okay, I hear you, you’re like great, but how does this relate back to AI? So the other thing in the beginning of the book “Hidden Potential” that I was like, oh man, that one struck a chord with me, is Adam Grant says, “Our cognitive skills are what separate us from animals.” Okay, so our prefrontal cortex, our ability to think about our thinking, like that cognitive ability we have, that is what separates us from other animals with brains and feelings and emotions, okay? He then goes on to say, “Our character development is what elevates us above machines.” So he talks about essentially, in order for us to continue to work on our character development, to elevate ourselves above machine learning, above AI, above this type of technology that’s going to be able to do some of the things we have been doing in the past, he talks about you have to get better at getting better. And I love this concept, and I’m not going to go into it, go read the book, I’m telling you, it’s so good. Kind of the three key things he touches on is how do you get better at getting better. One is you’ve got to increase your discomfort through learning and growing. Two, you need to be a sponge. And three, you need to be an imperfectionist. Okay, go read his book, dive into it.

 

What I want to talk a little bit about is how do you increase your discomfort and why do we kind of struggle with that a little bit. I think most of us would agree in theory, like, yeah, we’re all in, we get that, but in the reality of it, in the application of it, we’re not good at it because we don’t have a lot of tolerance for discomfort.

 

I was talking to someone this week, and this person is brilliant, they actually work in the AI space and are researching scientists, deep machine learning, like, so smart and brilliant in a way that I was like, I don’t know what those words mean, but I’m going to believe you. And they were working for a startup company and had basically kind of become almost like one of the founders. And they were struggling because they didn’t know what direction to go. Do they stay at this company? Do they write it out? Or do they go and find something else? And as I was talking to them, they indicated what they really want is they love the growing, they love love the learning. They kept framing it from like they want to be the dumbest person in the room. They are already brilliant and smart, and the smarter you get, the harder it is to be the dumbest person in the room. And so you have to keep kind of shifting and changing and finding those people that are smarter than you. And this person didn’t know like what to do. So as the outsider person, as their coach, I can clearly see they do actually know what they want to do. Their problem is they don’t actually have tolerance for discomfort. They know being the dumbest person in the room doesn’t feel good, but they weren’t willing to admit to themselves that they weren’t willing to feel all the uncertainty, all the doubt, all the worry, all the insecurity about making the jump to go and be that person. They kept wanting it to be the quote-unquote right decision and what their brain believed, because what most of us are taught is you’ll know it’s the right decision because it’ll feel good.

 

Here’s what I want to offer to you. If you’re really wanting to get better at getting better and you want to increase your discomfort, you’ve got to go all in on the thing that feels the most uncomfortable, the one that feels the most hard, the most scary. It’s usually the right one because it’s scaring you the most. So as you think about it, I was kind of walking through these options with this person. I was like, okay, you can totally stay. It’s going to feel uncomfortable, right? You’re going to be frustrated, um, you’re going to feel like you’re getting pulled in multiple places, that you don’t have a mentor, that you’re not growing, that you’re worried you should have done something else and maybe second-guessing your decision. There’s going to be a lot of confusion in this space of if you stay of like what’s going on because you’re kind of just staying stagnant. There’s discomfort in that. I’m not saying there’s not. But if you choose to go and find that room where you are the dumbest person in the room, there’s going to be a lot of discomfort because you’re going to worry it’s not going to work out, you’re not making the right decision, you’re going to feel nervous and a little excited. It’s going to feel hard because you’ve got to go find it. It’s not easy to find those rooms where a really bright intelligent person isn’t the most bright intelligent person, but that discomfort feels even more intense and more scary because it’s moving them forward into the unknown. And that’s what I was offering to them to think about. If you want to get better at getting better, if you want to increase your discomfort, you’ve got to go all in on the most uncomfortable thing. And then you go do it again, and you do it again, and you do it again. That is how you allow yourself to be the dumbest person in the room. It’s hard, but you know how to do that. The discomfort and growth this person needed to work on was feeling the discomfort to get to that place. Because when you know how to do that, when you have that skill, that is not something AI can do.

 

So when we think about what AI may be doing in the near or far future, yeah, your job is probably going to shift a little. But when you are working on your character development and character growth, that cannot be replaced by AI. So what will that look like in application for my girl, Erica? I don’t know exactly. But as I was thinking about it, I’m like, yeah, AI may do some of the copywriting that she actually did today. But that’s not the value Erica brings to the table. The value she brings that I don’t believe at this stage AI can do is understanding customer pain points at a human level, at being able to gather that raw emotional story and connect it through all of the copy, through the full user experience. It’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to require a shift and a growth at a higher level, but I do think we are still going to need copywriters. I do think we’re still going to need doctors. I do think we’re still going to need all of these professions that exist out there. I think they’re going to shift because our character and our growth and our development and us knowing how to be better at being better cannot be replaced by machines.

 

If you’re worried about losing your job to this industry or that it ‘s all going to be doom and gloom and that humans are going to get taken over by machines, you do you, you’re allowed to. I love you either way. But what I’d offer to you to think about is this is actually a really exciting thing because it’s going to allow us to continue to focus on our character development. And that is a great thing. It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard, it’s challenging, and that’s okay. Who you are on those hard days tells us where you are at with your character development. Don’t forget, you’re not working tonight. If your boss gets mad, blame me. Have them listen to this. You’re amazing. You got this. We’ll talk soon.

 

If what you’re learning from this podcast is helping, this is just the beginning. Each week, I offer a limited number of coffee chats so that you and I can connect one-on-one and talk specifically about what’s going on for you. You’ll leave this call feeling more hopeful and motivated. But I’m also going to teach you a few things to try right away to get unstuck. Space is very limited and these are free, so grab your spot before they’re gone. Click the link in the show notes or go to lindsaylymancoaching.com/chat and sign up today. You got this.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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