You’re fired

In part six of strategy's Future-Proofing series, Rick Boyko says firing yourself is the best thing you can do to fight complacency.

For the February/March issue of strategy, guest editor Steve Mykolyn of Taxi posed the question to several industry heavy-weights: how do you future-proof the business? They came back with their thoughts on dealing with today’s world of rapid-fire change, and here we present the sixth of the series.

By Rick Boyko

“The age demanded an image of its accelerated grimace.” – Ezra Pound

In this age of acceleration, it seems everyone is grimacing. So how do you keep up with the ever-increasing speed of change? Can you future-proof yourself?

Personally I’ve found the only way to try and keep up with change is to resist complacency by constantly remaining curious.

I’ve watched far too many, confident in their jobs, become comfortable and complacent while the world goes speeding by them. Academia is especially susceptible to this problem given tenure can, and often does, breed complacency.

So if you find yourself feeling comfortable or not challenged, one way to stave off the dilemma of complacency is to…fire yourself. Okay, not literally but mentally, pretend you are starting a new job. When you do, you’ll look at everything anew.

Think back to whenever you begin a new job. The first thing you feel you need to do is prove yourself, and because of that, you force yourself to be curious. You ask questions, challenge routines, look at new trends and take nothing for granted. You dig, study, read, watch, all the while working hard to prove you are worthy of the position and better than others around you. That effort you put forth to prove yourself is what is required of you if you want to remain curious.

The homework:

If you want to try and stay ahead of the increasing speed of change, fire yourself, start anew and remain curious.

Walt Disney, someone who blazed new trails throughout his career, put it best: “We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Rick Boyko, prior to founding Sparkstarters executive training program, was director of the VCU Brandcenter and co-president & CCO of Ogilvy North America. In 2012, Boyko was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Fame.

Illustration by Gary Clement.