It always amazes me when beliefs carry on far longer than they actually should. This happens in every part of society. We create social norms and beliefs that are based on data that is ever changing. However, our beliefs rarely keep up with the truth. Plus, the “truth” is often evolving.
Here’s a great example to see what I mean. There are still a lot of people who think that older people aren’t online. Turns out that if you were living in the year 2000, you’d be totally right. In 2000, older people weren’t online. However, as this chart from a Pew Research study shows, that’s changed in a big way.
Sometimes you have to step back and look at the data to readjust your preconceived notions of reality. Plus, sometimes we see things change in cycles or at least are influenced by waves of people talking about what’s in or not. A great example of this is email. I don’t know how many times people have declared email dead. If that’s true, it’s come back to life more times than a cat.
While headlines like “Email is Dead” makes for a great headline, don’t be like a sheep that just follows the herd. Look beyond the headline to understand the real nuances of what’s being said. The nuance, in this case, might be that there are new opportunities that are better than the ones that are currently most popular. That doesn’t mean you have to eschew the old as you embrace the new. In most cases, these things can be additive.
How does this apply to your career? If you’re searching for jobs, you’ll read all sorts of headlines about what you should do and things you shouldn’t do. It’s great to be well educated on these things, but don’t read them like gospel doctrine that’s never changing and always true. Understand the principles they’re trying to teach and then figure out the best path for you and if they still apply.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to do exactly the opposite of what everyone else is doing. That will make you stand out and be seen as different. That’s not a bad thing in a career if you do it thoughtfully.
We all have assumptions and beliefs that we create throughout our careers. It’s great to spend time looking at those assumptions and testing if they still apply or not.