We live in times of rapid change and complex uncertainty. How can one prepare and become future-ready?
Before diving into that question. It behooves to ask:
What future do I see coming?
I would be a liar if I would say that I knew. Nobody knows what the future will look like. That said, I believe there are at least three dynamics that we can count on in the future:
- Uncertainty — We can only know probabilities. Absolute truths are a relic of the past — whether they be religious dogma or materialistic fact. Control makes way for collaboration toward shared purpose, providing a deeper sense of stability than imagined certainty ever could.
- Velocity — Everything will only get faster. As three billion new people will come online in the next five years, we are adding three billion new players to the playing field of international communication, giving them an opportunity to learn, process and build on all the human knowledge we have collected in the digital world so far. The astounding work that is WikiPedia will look like a child’s scrap book within a decade.
- Complexity — Complex is that which is complicated and changing over time. As we are adding points of perception to the global conversation, as everything becomes transparent and visible, we are also adding variables to every equation we are creating. This will require whole new ways of processing information and planning. It will require integrating the paradox of planning for legacy while being able to pivot how we are getting there at any point in time.
What I know I can do to thrive in times of rapid change and complex uncertainty is to focus on two things: a strong core, and increased adaptability across all ways of experiencing and participating in reality.
A Strong Core
A strong core results from purpose, values, core narratives that guide my decision making process on a high-level and allow me to derive pathways even in undefined or ill-defined contexts. These core values are dynamicideals, never to be reached, but to ever further expand upon through experience.
Increased adaptability comes from practice and conscious understanding of my different interfaces into reality, their inputs, processes and outputs:
- Physical — My first and most obvious interface into this reality is my body. I get to curate the inputs I provide it in form of light, nutrients and exercise. The more I understand about the processes occurring in my physiology, the more conscious I can affect and adapt them. Yoga has been a constant practice off and on for many decades in my life. I also constantly create new physical challenges for myself, from exercise to integrating micro-biology from around the world by traveling to different regions and enjoying local foods and water. All the while aiming to optimize my physical functioning.
- Emotional — More subtle than the body and heavily affecting the body are the emotions I feel. Through trained awareness and tools like breathing consciously, I can remind myself that any emotion provides information for me if I can experience it fully without being attached to it. I continue to practice connecting with my emotions, giving them appropriate expression, and thus constantly learning to respond instead of react to events around me.
- Mental — Garbage in/Garbage out is one of the core mantras of Information technology. This also goes for ideas and memes. Whatever information I chose to expose myself to, process, and share, creates my reality. I have a strict media diet in that I focus on seeking out information that is relevant to my purpose and will forward my work, while filtering out the noise. We live in an age where information behavior has flipped: From seeking out as much information as possible — because there was little available, we are now inundated with information, and our challenge is to scan wisely for information that will contribute to our purpose. As I scan, I ensure to take diverse and disparate viewpoints into consideration, in the process training my cognitive flexibility and critical thinking skills. Finally, I focus on sharing with relevance. My information output — beginning with every uttered syllable and ending in the many frays of social media — is highly curated to ensure that it adds value.
- Relational — Community is the new gold. In the past, resources, then territory, and most recently information became the key leverage to wealth. In the future, this will be community and relationships. A key capacity for being future-ready is the ability to build community, contribute and exchange value within it. I am committed to adding value in whichever relationship network I am in or creating, from family and friends to people I work with, and to the community at large — ultimately everyone on this planet. We are kind to whoever we consider kin. I constantly aim to expand my notion of kin toward the planetary family.
- Unique Agency — Each individual is by default invited to be a prototype for humanity, to be an example for what a human can be like — as an individual celebrating our diversity and inherent unity. I am dedicated to continuously learning new tools, finding ever new ways to create and contribute, in the process developing and owning my unique voice and agency on this planet.
- Holistic — We have lived with pictures of earth from space for over forty years. Our sphere of concern has expanded beyond the intellectual tribe. We get to be solution oriented on planetary scale. I continue to remind myself of expanding my sphere of concern toward planetary context in whatever I do. Nobody wins unless everybody wins. There is no more secret valley to hide in. Rational Self-Interest now means creating planetary systems that allow every human to have meaningful activity and loving relationships, while having their needs met abundantly.
- Causal Purpose — I continue to remind myself that I am co-creating reality, remind myself that I have the capacity to shape the future. While I am not in control, I get to take command of myself, and choose to orient myself on a higher purpose. It is understanding my place within the hierarchy of nature, with elementals below, and my genius above, the potential of who I can be… And constantly showing up for that.
All my interfaces are related. From one to the next, akin to induction currents, energy can be transferred. A strong planetary purpose will create a holistic view of the world, and a desire to be an individual voice within the polyversal choir that is humanity. Any big idea will require collaboration, will require others, their information and their passion, so that ultimately, it can be embodied as part of what it means to be human.
That is how I prepare myself to be future-ready. How about you?
This article was initially written for Future-Ready-Now – an online magazine on Medium where we are gathering insights from changemakers and catalysts on what it means to be future-ready and their individual practice. Future-Ready-Now is a not-for-profit project by LUMAN.