Unleashing Human Potential: Be So Good, AI Won’t Replace Youby@scottdclary
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Unleashing Human Potential: Be So Good, AI Won’t Replace You

by Scott D. ClaryOctober 15th, 2023
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Join me in exploring how to thrive alongside AI, cultivating our creativity and lifelong learning for a fulfilling, impactful future.
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What’s in today’s newsletter?

  • The rise of AI is inevitable, but so is human creativity. We must cultivate our imagination and innovation to thrive alongside technology.

  • Develop curiosity, originality, and a growth mindset through deliberate philosophies and practices. These uniquely human strengths make us irreplaceable.

  • Upskill perpetually in diverse domains. Merge knowledge and empathy with AI tools. The future belongs to the creatively relentless.

The world of work is changing faster than ever before.

Artificial intelligence and automation are taking over tasks that used to require human intelligence and creativity.

This raises a crucial question:

What do we do about Skynet?

How will we cope with the rise of thinking machines that can outperform us (at some things).

The concerns are justified. AI came at us quickly.

“Robots will take our jobs!”….. “AI will surpass human creativity!”

There is a very real fear that we will lose our sense of purpose and value in a world dominated by machines.

But this view ignores an important truth:

We have something that machines can never replicate:

The power of human imagination. Our ability to create, empathize, and innovate is unmatched by any algorithm.

As the legendary inventor Nikola Tesla said:

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

The real question is:

  • How can we unleash our creative potential to thrive in the era of thinking machines?
  • How can we ensure that we remain relevant and valuable in the face of exponential AI progress?
  • How can we be the masters of algorithms, not their slaves?

The plan is to give you an anti-AI toolkit.

A toolkit that will make you indispensable and unstoppable (no matter what version of Chat-GPT rolls out).

The machines are here - but so are the infinite possibilities of the human imagination.

The tool kit has three pieces.

  1. Curiosity/Creativity

  2. Originality

  3. Perpetual Learning

Let’s start with creativity.

The 6 Pillars of Unlocking Your Curious/Creative Genius

Conventional wisdom states that curiosity and creativity are magical gifts - you either have them or you don't.

This is false.

They can be cultivated through deliberate philosophies and practices.

Why curiosity & creativity?

Because to be creative, you need to be curious. Creativity cannot exist without curiosity.

It is a two-part problem we need to solve for.

The book 3 Human Super Talents AI Will Not Replace by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Reece Akhtar speaks about how to architect curiosity, empathy, and self-awareness - three critical talents that AI is unlikely to replace.

This book is based on an article published in Harvard Business Review.

“Curiosity is the engine of intellectual achievement — it’s what drives us to keep learning, keep trying, keep pushing forward. But too many people lose this innate quality as they grow up. We need to foster curiosity in ourselves and others, especially in a world where innovation and creativity are essential for success.”

But how can you measure and improve curiosity and creativity?

In the book, they referenced a case study from a global consulting firm that wanted to find out exactly this.

They used an online assessment tool to measure the curiosity levels of their employees, as well as adjacent relevant skills and personality traits.

Guess what they found?

Curiosity was positively correlated with performance, client satisfaction, and retention.

They discovered that curiosity could be enhanced by feedback and coaching, using methods such as:

  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Challenging assumptions
  • Seeking diverse perspectives

Very simple - but very effective.

The lesson?

  • Curiosity is not just a trait. It is a skill.
  • Curiosity is not just a feeling. It is a habit.
  • Curiosity is not just a gift. It is a choice.

By understanding curiosity’s core drivers, we’re going to activate your inner da Vinci.

The study results? They created and delivered a tailored curiosity development program for their employees, which boosted their work outcomes significantly.

Approaching every single problem with this curious mindset.

It’s a mandatory requirement in order to be a creative individual.

Now that we know how to approach problems and be curious, we can now train ourselves to be creative.

Here are 6 of the most important items we need to consider in order to think creatively.

Visionary Thinking

Visionary thinking is the ability to imagine and create new possibilities for the future.

Remember, the current version of AI is built on millions of data points and inputs, from past data.

Think of visionary thinking as the opposite of AI training data.

It’s the ability to see things that haven’t happened yet.

It is the source of innovation, disruption, and impact.

But how can you develop visionary thinking?

The first step is to avoid copying existing ideas.

You can’t just follow the crowd.

Don’t just accept the conventional wisdom. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing.

Instead, challenge the assumptions that underlie the current reality.

Socrates said,

“An unexamined life is not worth living.”

This applies not only to your personal life but also to your professional and creative pursuits.

Examine the beliefs and models that others take for granted.

Don’t become a tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist, but do ask more questions.

Be critical of the way “things have always been done.”

Analyze existing playbooks’ strengths and weaknesses.

Ask yourself:

  • What if things were different?
  • What if I could change something?
  • What if I could do better?

Think from first principles, not from analogies.

First, principles are the fundamental truths that are independent of any context or situation.

Analogies are comparisons based on similarities or patterns.

By thinking from first principles, you can break down complex problems into their basic elements and then build up new solutions from scratch.

By thinking from analogies, you can only replicate or modify existing solutions, and limit your creativity.

Think of some of the great visionaries of our time, such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson.

They all won the game by questioning the status quo, and creating new products, services, and industries that no one else had imagined before.

They didn’t copy. They created.

Visionary thinking is not a gift. It is a skill.

It is a skill that you can learn and practice.

It is a skill that you can use to make a difference in the world.

(Use it to keep your job, or beat Elon to Mars… your choice).

Expanding Inputs

Creativity thrives on combining diverse ideas.

Yet, we limit potential by staying isolated in our domains.

Break out of your bubble.

Don’t limit yourself to your own domain or field. Don’t stay isolated in your own comfort zone.

Don’t settle for what you already know.

Explore diverse and unfamiliar domains and fields.

Follow your innate curiosity and passion into unknown territories.

Learn from the arts, psychology, cosmology, or any other area that interests you. Read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, take courses, attend events, and meet people.

Think of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most creative geniuses of all time. He was renowned for his equal talents in art and engineering. He was also interested in anatomy, astronomy, botany, geology, and many other subjects. He combined his knowledge and skills from different domains to create masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and the Vitruvian Man.

He didn’t specialize. He synthesized.

Creative inputs are not just facts. They are puzzle pieces.

They are puzzle pieces that you can use to construct novel and original combinations.

They are puzzle pieces that you can use to solve problems, generate ideas, and make an impact.

As Steve Jobs said,

“Creativity is just connecting things.”

The more creative inputs you have, the more creative outputs you can produce.

Creative inputs are not a fixed quantity. They are a choice.

Expand your inputs, expand your impact.

Thinking Divergently

Convergent thinking reduces possibilities. Divergent thinking explodes them open.

Divergent thinking is the ability to generate multiple, diverse, and original ideas. It is the opposite of convergent thinking, which is the ability to narrow down and select the best idea.

But how can you develop divergent thinking?

The first step is to delay judgment and entertain unconventional, even impractical ideas.

Don’t dismiss or criticize ideas too quickly. Don’t filter or censor your own thoughts.

Don’t follow the rules or norms blindly.

Instead, embrace eccentricity and diversity.

Fuse disparate concepts into fresh combinations.

Experiment with different perspectives and scenarios.

Learn from Thomas Edison, one of the most prolific inventors of all time. He remarked, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” He meant that junk ideas often contain seeds of genius and that imagination is the key to unlocking them.

He didn’t reject. He explored.

Divergent thinking is not just a skill. It is an attitude.

It’s an attitude that challenges the status quo, seeks new possibilities, and values creativity over conformity and impact over convention.

  • Delay judgment always & entertain the unconventional.
  • Your attitude always has to be one of openness and exploration.
  • Try brainstorming, mind mapping, SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse), or random word association techniques.

Divergent thinking is the lifeblood of impactful innovation.

The more divergent ideas you have, the more convergent solutions you can find.

Divergent thinking is not a gift. It is a choice.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the drive to do something because you enjoy it, not because you get rewarded for it. It is the source of passion, purpose, and fulfillment.

How do we increase?

The first step is to ensure your pursuits align with your inner purpose.

  • Don’t chase money or status.
  • Don’t let external factors dictate your choices.
  • Don’t compromise your values or vision.

Instead, stay guided by your mission, your why, and your reason for being (there are a few good exercises for figuring out your north star ‘why,’ but that’s for another newsletter).

Maintain creative autonomy over your projects when possible.

Choose work that challenges you, inspires you, and makes you happy.

You’re going to learn quite a bit from the research of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in this article.

He coined the term “flow” to describe the state of optimal experience.

He found that when people are intrinsically motivated, they develop skills, attach meaning to their lives, and achieve higher levels of performance and satisfaction.

Intrinsic motivation is not just a feeling. It is a force.

It is a force that fuels your innovation and creativity and ignites your potential and impact.

As Simon Sinek said,

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

Intrinsic motivation is the Why that matters most.

Because the more intrinsic motivation you have, the more extrinsic rewards you will get.

Passion powers possibility. Purpose ignites potential. Focus on intrinsic catalysts first.

Iterating Rapidly

Remember, we’re trying to solve for creativity.

But what does that actually lead to?

Human innovation. Being a better version of you.

It’s not a moment of instant insight.

It is an iterative process of gradual improvement and fast failure.

Learn from…

Airbnb, one of the most successful online platforms for renting and hosting accommodation. The founders prototyped their ideas quickly and cheaply and used the feedback they received to improve their products and services.

Amazon, one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world. The company places small bets that unlock big breakthroughs. The company encourages its employees to experiment with new ideas and products, even if they fail or lose money. The company also uses a process called “working backward” to test the customer demand and viability of new ideas before investing too much time or money into them.

And how did they do it?

Rapid iteration.

Iteration is essential for innovation, learning, and growth.

But how can you iterate rapidly and learn from failure?

  • Prototype bold ideas quickly to gather feedback.
  • View setbacks as tuition for growth.
  • Place small bets that unlock big breakthroughs.

The more you iterate, the more you learn. → The more you learn, the more you improve. → The more you improve, the more you innovate.

Edison is famous for the line,

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

Flow State Mastery

Ideas don’t mean a lot without the focus and stamina to execute them.

That’s where flow comes in.

Make activities that create an immersive focus a daily practice. Structure conditions to enter flow regularly. Guard your creative time zealously.

You will achieve breakthroughs much quicker.

Remember Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi? He coined the term “flow” to describe the state of optimal experience. He found that flow state can be induced by following four steps:

  1. Find a challenge that matches your skills;
  2. Set a clear and immediate goal;
  3. Focus your attention on the task;
  4. Receive immediate feedback on your performance.

Flow is absolutely sacred. It’s an extremely important piece of this playbook.

  • Don’t let anyone or anything interfere with your flow state.
  • Don’t allow others to interrupt or distract you.
  • Don’t sacrifice your creative time for other obligations or requests.
  • Don’t compromise your quality or quantity of work.

Instead, guard your creative time zealously. Communicate your boundaries and expectations to others. Respect your own schedule and priorities. Protect your energy and attention. Honor your commitment and discipline.

Flow state is the key to impactful innovation, creativity, and basically any other defense we have against the rise of machines.

With these six pillars as your foundation, you hold the keys to unlock your inner da Vinci (and you have a small chance of beating Skynet.).

Now that we’ve nailed down creativity let’s chat about originality.

Activating Your Innate Originality

Now that we’ve nailed down the six steps to curiosity and creativity, let’s move on to Originality.

Originality is not a fixed trait that you either have or don’t have.

It’s a skill that you can develop and improve - very much like creativity.

It’s also a reflection of who you are, what you care about, and what you aspire to.

But how can you find your original essence?

The first step is to look inward and ask yourself some questions.

Don’t settle for superficial or generic answers to any of the questions I’m about to list out.

Go deep - adopt a ‘5 Why’s Framework’ if necessary.

Ask yourself “why” in response to your answer five times to get deeper insights out.

You can also ask a friend to do this if you have trouble being honest with yourself.

Now, on to originality.

Here are the questions I want you to ask yourself.

What activities absorb you?

  • When do you lose track of time and enter a flow state?
  • What original pursuits bring you alive?

As philosopher Joseph Campbell said,

“Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.”

The things you are naturally obsessed with will reveal your natural talents.

Lead with these intrinsically motivating activities.

What energizes you intellectually?

  • What topics never cease to stimulate your mind?
  • What disciplines really call to your curious spirit?

Follow these intellectual magnets to uncover your original wiring. They rarely steer you wrong.

What problems get you fired up?

  • What injustices and grievances ignite your passion?
  • What broken systems infuriate you that you feel compelled to fix?

As author Steven Pressfield wrote,

“Our passions lead us to our purpose.”

Let your inner fire fuel your originality and change-making.

What felt like play, not work?

  • When have you become so engrossed in an activity it felt like play?

These moments of immersive flow reveal clues about your original constitution. Pay attention.

What are your strengths and quirks?

  • What unique strengths and oddities make you who you are?

Your seeming “weaknesses” often contain original gifts. Embrace self-knowledge.

Who do you admire and why?

  • Which figures inspire you most and why?

Your role models illuminate your untapped original potential. Follow their lead.

Where do you create best?

  • In what environments have you felt most inspired and prolific?

Craft spaces and rituals that allow your originality to flourish organically. Design your habitat for innovation.

By exploring these questions, you unravel your true original makeup.

Originality (if you haven’t figured it out by now) is uncovered with an exceptional focus on self-awareness.

Once you have these questions answered.

You have to act.

This is where you start to align your work with activities that light you up inside.

Merge your passion, personality, and purpose into rocket fuel.

Lead from your original essence, not external expectations.

As Seth Godin wrote,

“Share your scarcest resource - your unique perspective.”

The world needs precisely what makes you beautifully strange.

Trust your original compass.

Soon, you operate on your own frequency, completely unconstrained by others’ standards. You become a conduit for the original muse that’s living inside you. And that’s when you make your greatest impact.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset for Lifelong Learning

Now that we’ve figured out curiosity/creativity and originality, let’s focus on the mindset required to tackle the AI uprising.

Continuous learning is the master skill of the 21st century.

But simply reading more books or taking the occasional online course isn’t going to cut it.

We need to really believe that abilities can be developed through practice and grit.

This mentality framework creates a relentless drive for self-improvement.

It unlocks the superpower of perpetual upskilling.

How do we do this?

We need to believe and internalize the following truths.

Abilities Are Elastic

View your capabilities like elastic - able to stretch and expand, not fixed traits.

People are originally more alike in potential than different.

What separates the great is their mindset.

Psychologist Carol Dweck explains,

"When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, it leads to greater motivation and achievement."

So, we need to approach up-skilling with the perspective that nearly any skill can be built over time.

Discard notions of innate giftedness. Expand your sense of what's possible for you.

View Setbacks As Feedback

Each failure contains a lesson.

Rather than labeling setbacks as demoralizing, reframe them as valuable feedback to improve.

Progress isn't linear. Upskill patiently, like mastering any complex endeavor.

Mark Cuban embraced this mindset from early on:

“I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost got it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you.”

Small Bets Unlock Big Breakthroughs

Limiting beliefs to lose power through small wins.

Each skill built opens new possibilities and expands your identity.

Break ambitious goals into miniature challenges. Adopt a playful testing mentality. Small daily wins create unstoppable momentum.

Baby steps stack up.

Practice Under Pressure

Just like lifting heavier weights builds muscle, practicing under pressure builds mental fortitude.

Deliberately work outside your comfort zone.

Give presentations, attempt public speaking, and take on ambitious projects that require you to expand your skills.

With each managed stressor, your tolerance increases.

This inoculates you against all the future unknowns.

Embrace Perpetual Learning

As Ray Kurzweil said,

"To thrive with AI, humans must merge with it."

Adopt an agile, cyborg mindset of perpetual learning.

The secret to winning the AI wars is the ability to merge knowledge, insight, wisdom, originality, and creativity with (not instead of) AI tools.

Make learning a lifelong adventure, not an occasional chore.

In summary, a growth mindset equates to…

  • Viewing abilities as elastic, not fixed traits
  • Tying learning to intrinsic motivations
  • Reframing setbacks as valuable feedback
  • Attempting small challenges daily
  • Practicing under managed pressure
  • Focusing on the promise ahead, not temporary stumbles

Remember, progress compounds slowly, then exponentially. Plant these seeds now.

With a growth mindset, no challenge is insurmountable.

The future belongs to the perpetually curious, the perpetually original, and the perpetually learning.

Seize it.

The Future Belongs to the Creative

Advancing technology easily leads to over-optimization and dehumanization.

That’s our opportunity.

The rise of intelligent machines is inevitable. But so too is the resilience of human imagination.

Our creative spirit remains limitless.

No algorithm can replicate the empathy, ethics, and ingenuity exclusive to the human mind.

Apple's Tim Cook was ahead of his time:

"There are things that technology doesn't do. It doesn't have a heart. It doesn't have a soul. It doesn't have a conscience."

But we humans do. And these uniquely human faculties will become even more critical in an AI-driven world.

We stand on the brink of an automation revolution.

But this new era needs human hands to shape it.

  • Now is the time to hone your creative tools.
  • Commit to lifelong learning.
  • Know your essence, and share your gifts fully.
  • Upskill with an insatiable drive.

The coming challenges call for builders, not victims; mastery, not resignation.

Heed the call.

Then, watch what becomes possible when human creativity is unleashed.

If you love this content (please share it), but also…

Check out my Podcast, connect with me on / Twitter, Subscribe to my weekly newsletter and Join our free slack community

Email me at [email protected] or tweet at me @ScottDClary, and I’ll do my best to get back to everyone!

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