Thinking, Vision, and Surfing Big Technological Waves

As the speed of technological progress increases so does the importance of thinking critically about your life, career, and future.

Technological change acts like waves in the ocean. If you see them coming, you can use the momentum to your advantage. You can surf them. If you ignore those same waves, you may get crushed, but no matter what you will be dragged along.

In the past, it was easier to be ignorant of trends. They approached slower and they had less of an impact. The surfers of trends had to surf for a long time to accumulate massive wealth. John D. Rockafeller saw oil coming and worked for decades and decades to accumulate a fortune. Today, two college students can become billionaires in a year with a new photo app.

The waves are bigger, and so are the rewards for spotting and surfing them.

At the same time, the impact these waves have on the passive bystander will be greater and greater. The penalty for being ignorant of technology will increase at an exponential rate. 

If you were a factory worker 1920, new improvements in equipment where only marginal, and large jumps in productivity may only happen a few times during your career. You could safely keep your head down and still be able to perceive the changes that were happening.

Today, every industry is at risk of dramatically changing. Software is eating the world.

The career professional in their 9 to 5 who goes for a drink after work and then home to watch TV with the family used to be safer. He would hear rumors, see signs, and be able to prepare for the coming technological wave because it approached slowly and wasn’t massive.

Today the waves are approaching rapidly and are of epic size.

Young people with vision but without the confidence to surf are paralyzed by fears about automation. They know that technology will disrupt many of the careers the traditional education system is presenting to them. And so many long for the safety and security they imagine they once had by replacing the state as a parent with universal basic income.

Those of us further into our careers have the skills and confidence to surf the coming waves of technology. To create a ton of value and accumulate wealth, but many of us are too busy with day to day responsibilities to think deeply about the changes coming, or how we could best prepare.Concentrated thought is so valuable

In an environment of swelling technological waves, systematic thought is not just valuable, it is crucial. We need time to pull our heads up from to-do lists and day to day responsibilities to perceive how the world is changing. Systematic thinking allows you to incorporate what you are seeing in your industry to form a vision of what is likely to happen. You are able to spot the waves, point your surfboard in the right direction and ride them.

Technology isn’t a storm to be feared. These waves may knock you off of your feet for a moment. You may experience discomfort, as your safe, reliable jobs disappear. But we will all be moved forward.

And for those of us with vision, confidence, and skill the gigantic waves of the future provide an opportunity unimaginable to people even a few decades ago. From your laptop, by yourself and with the help of contractors you can create more value than a 5000 person company could 50 years ago. All that is required is the insight and action.

1 Comment

  1. Cool analogy, Ryan. Thought this was originally about surfing but it turned into something different and really enjoyable. I think you’re 100% right about surfing waves of technology. What do you think will be the next wave? VR? Drones?

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