I had just watched a video about “The A.I. Dilemma” and I was terrified.

What if Artificial Intelligence takes our jobs, puts disinformation on steroids and possibly ends the human race one day? My imagination was running wild. It all sounded worse than the “zombie apocalypse” with no clear solution in sight.

So, I did what I always do when I’m afraid: I took an action step.

Taking action turns fear into curiosity

It started with talking to my team about how we could use AI in our business. One team member found a training she wanted to take to learn about AI for marketers. We started to get smart on the opportunities we could embrace, not just the threats.

Taking action moved us from feeling like bystanders to having a front row seat so we can be more prepared for whatever comes next.

The question is, what action makes sense for you to take?

Whether you’re afraid like I was, unsure what to do, or “too busy” juggling responsibilities to face the threat of AI, the thing is, if you don’t learn about AI and start to engage with it, you’re more likely to be left behind in your career.

To help you shift from being a bystander to being engaged, here are five actions to consider that will make sense no matter what happens.

  • Be curious
  • Look at the downside
  • Explore your sector
  • Look for the upside
  • Know yourself

Be curious about AI

You can’t ignore AI and hope it’ll go away. AI is here to stay and its impact will be bigger and probably different than we imagine.

In fact, people say Artificial Intelligence is as big a disruption to society as the printing press and the internet. That’s why it’s important to get curious, be in the information flow and stay abreast of developments.

For example, our team has started a Slack channel dedicated to all things AI-related to help each other get smart and stay informed. By crowdsourcing the information, we all get to stay current without having to find all the best sources ourselves.

And when you have a few minutes to read a news article, choose one about AI. Or weave the topic into conversations you’re already having to share ideas and learn from each other.

You could even use AI as an excuse to get to know colleagues in the technology area or managers in other parts of the organization who are knowledgeable about the impact of AI on the business.

What’s a simple thing you could do to get curious and stay abreast of developments?

This takes us to the second action.

Look at the downside of AI in your role

If you’re the least bit afraid (or at least curious) about whether and how your job could be taken over by AI, this is the moment to figure out the answer for yourself.

If your job is going to change or even go away, it’s better to get ahead of the curve and be prepared rather than waiting for someone else to dictate the terms and timing of that change.

For example, entrepreneur Alex Hormozi challenged his team to figure out how AI can take over their jobs. In the process, they discovered a slew of AI-powered apps that made them more productive while also allowing them to scale what the company does. And nobody lost their job.

If AI can truly take over your entire job, then it’s time to reskill and find a more sustainable role. Better to know that now so you have time to prepare.

But what you’ll likely discover is your human touch is still very much needed, and you can “outsource” to AI the parts that aren’t as high value added. That means you can save your precious time and brain space for being strategic, creative and thoughtful in a way that only you can do.

What are the components of your job that AI could do and how would you invest the time and mindspace that’s freed up as a result?

And now for the third action.

Explore your sector and how AI could be used

Zooming out from your specific job, this is a great time to look at the industry sector you’re in. Whether that’s finance, healthcare, higher education or something else, there will certainly be ways to harness the power of AI.

This provides a great opportunity to show you’re forward thinking and interested in strategic matters. And a great way to capture that opportunity is by participating in or even initiating the conversation about how AI could be used in your sector.

For example, when I asked one of my coaching clients how AI is going to affect the finance function that she leads, she said, “That’s a great question. We need to have that conversation.” The action step she’s chosen is to convene her colleagues in Finance and IT as well as their counterparts in other divisions to start the conversation.

And my team and I held a strategy session last month on likely scenarios for the impact on AI on our sector.

Whether you’re the convener or a participant, being part of the group that explores options and opportunities puts you at the heart of this new frontier. It also broadens your network, builds your reputation as someone strategic and helps you stay current on a major disruption in the market.

How can you initiate or be part of the conversation about AI in your sector?

This brings us to the fourth action.

Look for the upside of AI

When everyone is rushing one way, I like to look at the opposite way. Not only does this contrarian perspective add to the richness of the conversation, it also distinguishes you from the crowd. It can be as simple as asking, “what if the opposite were true?”

So while most people are fearful of what jobs AI might take away, you can be thinking about what jobs or even industries might be created. By doing so, you can be well-placed to become part of an area that’s growing, which makes career advancement more likely.

For example, the advent of Artificial Intelligence is likely to increase the need for people who can help with the ethics and governance of AI. Similarly, the privacy, cyber security and data accuracy fields are poised to keep growing.

What are some fields and jobs in your areas of expertise and interest that are likely to grow?

Which brings us to the fifth action.

Know yourself

Most of us won’t become experts in AI, but you can be an expert in yourself – that is, who you are and the value you can bring to the table. When the world is rapidly changing, it’s crucial to be firmly in touch with this “home base”.

So take a step back to truly understand your strengths, skills and unique abilities as well as what you enjoy doing.

When you know yourself, you can make better choices about what kind of roles to take on, when to pivot and where to set your sights next.

As AI disrupts entire industries and functions, you’ll have the clarity and understanding of the strengths and skills you can leverage, and the areas where you need to invest in your capabilities.

What are your special strengths and what do you value? How can you hone your knowledge of yourself?

But what if you’re too busy to take action or even think about AI and its impact?

As my father said when I complained about being too busy in college, “you will never have more time than you do right now.” And he was right. The older we get the faster time seems to fly by.

So when it comes to thinking about AI, remember that it doesn’t need to be a “thing” that you need to set aside hours to learn about. Things are moving so fast you can’t study it once intensely and keep abreast.

You’re better off investing fewer minutes a day and just staying fresh. And perhaps you can delegate the exploration of AI tools to your team members and have them reverse mentor you.

Very few people are experts in AI just yet, so you’re right on time to start getting smart on the topic and find a way to keep apprised without it taking over your day.

Just don’t make the mistake of ignoring AI completely

Artificial Intelligence is rapidly becoming embedded into the new way of working, making it impossible to ignore.

If you’re holding the topic of AI at arm’s length or pushing it away, your brain still knows it’s out there which can lead to an underlying worry that you’re not keeping up. And when you know you’re falling behind, that fear can put you in the reactive part of your brain rather than the creative, thinking part. It’s also draining and exhausting.

Remember that action beats inaction, even if it’s just reading an article or listening to one podcast episode a week.

You have everything to play for and you’re right on time

All you have to do is take an action and just get started. As you do, consider these five actions:

  • Be curious about AI – find simple ways to stay abreast of developments and you won’t fall behind
  • Look at the downside of AI in your role – examining how AI could replace you (or not) prepares you to pivot where necessary and even become more productive to free up time to be strategic and creative
  • Explore your sector and how AI could be used – whether you’re the convener or a participant, get involved in the strategic conversation
  • Look for the upside of AI-related job creation – you’ll be able to position yourself for the growth areas
  • Become an expert on yourself – in the age of AI, knowing who you are, the value you bring and what makes you uniquely you is more important than ever

Which action will you take to stay current on AI?

Leave a comment and let me know – I’d love to hear from you.