Where is your puck going to be?


Wayne Gretzky, most successful ice hockey player ever & coach…known as one of the greatest athletes to have graced this earth, famously said; “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Awestruck experts used to say he played with eyes in the back of his head. Wayne Gretzky simply shrugged off the exaggeration and said he followed instinct by anticipating where the puck was going and foreshadowing where the play might take him. It was such a unique combination of athleticism and intelligence that carried “The Great One” to unparalleled heights.

And its is here that lies our biggest lesson of life… Are we able to truly gauge where the puck is going to be… or do we simply follow where it has been. “Puck” for the uninitiated, is the disc shaped vulcanized rubber ball that is used in the sport of ice hockey.

The pace of change in the last decade or so, more specifically in the last few years has been nothing short of lightening fast. The skills of yesterday are defunct today and the expertise of today seemingly almost extinct tomorrow. The Future of Jobs Report 2023, released a week ago by the World Economic Forum, suggested that 69 million new jobs will be created and 83 million eliminated by 2027. India is going to see a 22% churn as compared to global average of 23%. While expectations of the displacement of physical and manual work by machines has decreased, reasoning, communicating, and coordinating – all traits with a comparative advantage for humans – are expected to be more automatable in the future. Artificial intelligence, a key driver of potential algorithmic displacement, is expected to be adopted by nearly 75% of 803 surveyed companies and is expected to lead to high churn – with 50% of organizations expecting it to create job growth and 25% expecting it to create job losses.

To answer the hardcore supporters who would like to dismiss such a dismal possibility & lend credence to these findings, is the fact that The Future of Jobs Survey brings together the perspective of 803 companies – collectively employing more than 11.3 million workers – in 27 industry clusters and 45 economies from all world regions.

Let’s get the data out of the discussion and revert to the question of our capability to intelligently analyze where the puck of our game is going to be and our tendency to often analyze basis data of where it has rather been… which usually leads to our wells of possibilities quickly drying up. Unlike our previous generations… where ‘loyalty to the provider’ was a lifetime contract, most of us today have conditioned to stretch it to ‘staunch unwavering loyalty’ towards our craft… In the current orstriched mindset that what feeds us will continue to do so, loyalty towards disappearing crafts and its employers could well be the hole in the parachute of our aspirations. Organizations are by the very intrinsic design, chasing less of people welfares & more of incremental profits… in a very constricted competitive environment, and are prone to opt for the most cost effective automated solutioning to ensure reductions of costs that can maximize bottomlines.

In the backdrop of such a scenario, this video kindled my conscience (or whatever is left of it) and the current challenges that many of us are facing. The warmth of remaining within the shades of known skills, capabilities and environments are current day’s incurable cancers of growth and even survival. The speed of change today is manifold disproportionate to our willingness to upgrade and adapt. We are back to the times of the mythical existence of the Darwinian world where the only difference appears to be rather the survival of the ‘intelligently’ agile. The rest are doomed to either extinction or to be relegated to a life of suffering unfulfilled aspirations and chasing goals and objectives which they do not relate to even a bit.

What then should be the mantra to stay relevant and meaningfully exist? The simplest obvious advice would be to have crystal clear clarity on what really fuels our life… our energy… our happiness and our ability to live our lives on our terms. Perhaps if that answer is clear, then we will automatically keep metamorphosing into the required stages that will not only enable continuing existence on our terms, but also keep us evolving into our better formats and desirable growth. Easier said than done. The warmth of the pupa will simply doom us into a state of such continued hibernation from which we will perhaps never emerge capable enough to fly.

The ability to acquire new capabilities will be more valuable than the capability itself. Agility of mindset and heartset will require to be institutionalized as our new default setting. While agreeably our brains may simply be wired to prefer lying on the couch and that human brains work harder to pick physical activity over relaxation, we need to reference point such beings, who have achieved anything substantial and are living lives that they want to live… as being those who simply rebelled, fought, and won this pre-wired setting of the human brain. We need to choose our reference points wisely and evaluate our milestones as carefully as we choose to breathe which we do not let go of even in any duress. That my friends, will future proof us against all these devastating statistics that predict doomsday for those who aren’t willing to keep redefining and moving their own cheese.

In short let’s skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been…. Or better still… do we even know where or what our puck is?

Charaiveti… Charaiveti.

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