Master Your Ego to Save Your Job: New Book, "Humility Is the New Smart," Reveals the Surprising New Criteria for Career Success in the Upcoming Tech Era

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In the modern Smart Machine Age, egoists, individualists, and aggressive types will be replaced by those who quiet their egos. Discover the surprising truth about staying relevant in the age of smart machines.

Many professional jobs will begin to disappear in 15 years. What will you be doing?

Fascinating and perceptive, Humility is the New Smart, is an excellent book for leaders and for anyone who wants to remain employed in the Smart Machine Age. -- Marshall Goldsmith, Thinkers50 #1 Leadership Thinker in the World

The Smart Machine Age is here, and it’s disrupting everything. Not only could it drive massive unemployment—researchers from Oxford University predict that 47 percent of all jobs in the United States may be taken over by technology in the next five to fifteen years—it’s redefining “smart” and “successful.” The day of the aggressive know-it-all who steamrolls over colleagues is drawing to a close. Success will belong to those who can quiet their ego, collaborate, and empathize with others.

“The upcoming technology tsunami will radically change the concept of ‘work’ in our society,” says Ed Hess, coauthor along with Katherine Ludwig of Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, January 2017, ISBN: 978-1-626-56875-4, $27.95). “After the machines take over, any remaining jobs still available for humans will be those requiring critical, innovative, and creative thinking as well as high emotional engagement with customers, patients, or clients.”

Obviously, this criteria is starkly different from the culture’s current markers of success. In the automated age, the authors say humility will be the golden ticket to getting a job.

“There’s a lot of misconception around humility,” adds Ludwig. “Too many people in our society think humility is meekness or submissiveness, or thinking less of oneself. In fact, humility is something entirely different.”

The authors use humility as it is defined by psychology. Humility means having an accurate view of one’s abilities and achievements; being able to acknowledge one’s mistakes, imperfections, gaps in knowledge, and limitations; being open to new ideas, contradictory information, and advice; keeping one’s abilities and accomplishments in perspective; having a low focus on self or a tendency to “forget the self”; and appreciating the value of all things and the many different ways other people and things contribute to the world.

According to Ludwig and Hess, living by the real definition of humility—a vital component of what they call “NewSmart”—liberates people from their inward focus and opens up their views and the reality of the world. It also opens peoples hearts to others in a way that enables the empathy, compassion, and trust necessary for effective teamwork and collaboration. By contrast, the old path to success inhibits the high-quality thinking, creating, innovating, and problem solving required to excel in the Smart Machine Age.

Embracing humility may not be easy. Hess points out that it may be difficult for some successful people to learn humility, because they believe it runs counter to their being perceived as strong. They were raised, educated, and trained in an era where higher-order thinking and emotional skills were not deemed essential for the majority of workers. In fact, most of today’s adults have no formal training in how to think, how to listen, how to learn through inquiry, how to emotionally engage, how to collaborate, or how to embrace mistakes as learning opportunities.

“People may think to themselves, I am a good listener, I already relate well to others, I’m not self-centered,” Hess says, "and it could be true, you may be good enough, but good enough won’t cut it anymore. Now people have to be better—which means toning down the ego’s power.”

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Katie Sheehan
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