It was New Year’s Eve. My wife and I were getting ready to go out to dinner to celebrate the imminent arrival of 2024.

And then everything went off the rails.

My wife popped into the garage to get something. She heard the unwelcome sound of gushing water. The hot water heater was leaking, big time. Old to the Long to the Syne!

Within seconds, we squeezed into the corner that housed the big metal cylinder. And tried to accomplish “everything, everywhere all at once”:

  1. Throwing down however many big towels we could find.
  2. Shoving empty plastic bins under the leaks.
  3. Shutting off the gas. (’Twas not as easy as it sounds.)
  4. Turning off the water. (’Twas not as easy, part 2.)
  5. Getting boxes off of the garage floor to prevent them from sustaining water damage.
  6. Trying not to slip on the slick concrete, especially me in my flip-flops.
  7. Clawing away at the long, dangling, f—ing cobwebs that had accumulated above and around the water heater since 2017.
  8. Ranting about how much we didn’t need this and how it was wrecking our New Year’s Eve plans.

After several calls to various “24/7 service” companies, we booked service for the next day. We finished cleaning up the garage, tidied ourselves up, and made it to our hibachi dinner.

2024 would begin with an expensive purchase and some literal cold showers. After cocktails and teriyaki salmon with fried rice, we accepted our fate. And the reminder that owning a house is the best thing in the world and the worst thing in the world.

Trying to Understand and Apply Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The next morning my mind wandered as it is prone to do into metaphor.

Visualizing my wife and I wrestling with the hot water heater in the cobwebbed corner of our newly-cleaned garage, I reflected on how most of us began 2024 with a similar problem to solve:

More fully understanding and applying AI, reaching out in multiple directions to accomplish this and seek help, drinking out of a proverbial hot water heater while trying not to get burned, soaked, sunk, or left behind in the age of AI.

Have we accepted the premise that, in the face of all things AI, we’ve no choice but to feel frantic and overwhelmed and rushed? If so, I have an alternative strategy to offer.

Human-AI Collaboration

“Collaborative intelligence” between humans and AI involves leveraging the different strengths of both, while mitigating their respective weaknesses, to achieve more effective and innovative outcomes. It’s a both/and rather than an either/or approach.

A personal example. One of my core professional skills is writing. For several months I’ve been “employing” Large Language Models (LLMs), including ChatGPT4, Google Bard/Gemini, and

Microsoft Co-Pilot to serve as my “interns.”

What do my “interns” do for me? They provide research assistance; generate ideas and topics when I’m feeling stuck; and save me time by summarizing lengthy content, extracting key points and important information.

Meanwhile, I’m preserving my unique human writing voice and touch as I interpret any AI-generated content; apply critical thinking; mitigate any inaccuracies or biases; and, in the context of what my specific audience wants and needs, ensure relevancy, emotional resonance, and nuance.

High-Level Examples  

Opportunities to partner with AI and let it help us span myriad careers and skills. Here’s just a sampling:

  • Automated Tasks: AI can handle routine, repetitive tasks. This frees humans to focus on more complex and creative aspects of their work.  
  • Predictive Analytics: AI can generate predictions and forecasts based on historical data. Humans can then make informed decisions and develop strategies, considering the broader context and impacts.
  • User-Centered Design: Human designers can work alongside AI to create personalized user interfaces and experiences that are intuitive and customer-friendly.  

This week

  1. Identify at least one of your key skills that you want to continue to elevate toward excellence and mastery. What are some of the most critical tasks associated with that skill?
  2. Do some quick online searches for examples of how AI is already performing some of those tasks. Don’t surrender to the false notion that AI “will fully replace you.” Instead, research how you can bring your uniquely human skills and perspectives to the table. And let AI make you even better at what you do.

Let’s connect

I’m an ICF-certified and experienced professional, coaching authentic human leaders in the age of AI, with a focus on organizations whose Director+ population is facing complex, nuanced problems. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.