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'Vocational Darwinism' -- adapt or die

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I've been MIA from the blog lately. Sorry about that. Life has an annoying habit of getting in the way sometimes.

My mini hiatus notwithstanding, writing for CPA Success takes up an enjoyably large chunk of my time these days.

Kinda funny how things have worked out. I'm a journalist by trade, after all. I graduated from college in 1990 as a member of the last generation of old-school journalists.

Q.: How old-school was I?

A.: I wrote my first article for our college paper on a typewriter. I kid you not.

My career path has been, in a word, meandering. I've gone from news reporter to news editor to sports editor to online sports editor to electronic marketing manager to e-communications manager to chief communications officer, the latter focusing specifically on social and new media.

Those are just job titles, though. They merely describe how I do my job.

What I do hasn't changed at all.

I'm in the business of informing people. Telling stories. Spreading the word. That's my passion. That's what I do. How I do it has changed radically over the years. What I do hasn't changed at all.

That's a perfect example of what "The Finch Effect" author Nacie Carson might call "vocational Darwinism" -- the notion that our jobs must evolve to conquer the radical changes that are impacting our careers.

It's a lesson that today's students would be wise to learn -- and that today's employees must embrace to survive. As Tom Hood says, the No. 1 skill going forward is the ability to learn new skills.

"Take responsibility for our own professional development when possible," Carson tells Fast Company's Drake Baer. "It's important for professionals to be comfortable and willing to hold up their hand to get more skill development, to improve the skills they're already great at, and not wait for a company to do that for them, to really take ownership of their own skill development."

In other words, change won't wait for you to catch up. You have to do that on your own. Be stubborn enough to cling to your passion -- and flexible enough to adopt newer, better ways of doing that work.

In an era of unprecedented change and complexity, that's a key to staying relevant.

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