We live in a time of accelerating change in the global landscape.
Globalization, environmental calamities, technological advances, and other complex forces are buffeting us like never before. The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus recognized many centuries ago that the only thing that is ever constant is change. The truth is, in today’s environment, the changes are coming more rapidly and more dynamic than ever before. These forces and changes are generating unlimited opportunities and inimitable threats. You can’t help but notice that change is accelerating. Yet most people are clueless about what’s causing the changes, how it might affect them, and, most important, what to do about them. What can we do in our lives and our businesses to prosper and thrive in the midst of these challenges?
All businesses large and small will inescapably be impacted by huge rates of change, whether through technology or globalization, or environmental calamities or economic factors. Business executives must know how to deal with that. Unfortunately, for most people change is often unwelcome, threatening, and disorienting. They refuse to receive it. They turn a blind eye toward a changing environment. They carelessly assume that the future will be similar to the past. In most cases, they can’t quite fathom that their existence could be threatened. In today’s rapidly changing world, obliviousness, unawareness and indifference are not effective choices. Not knowing and not caring can be a death sentence – not only for your career, but for your personal wellbeing, for your financial health and for your future possibility.
Have you ever asked yourself what are your points of view about change and about the future? In our experience, few people have given much thought to their points of view that underlie the way they create their reality and their future. Most people think that, since the future has not arrived yet, it can be ignored, at least for a while. A lot of people don’t have any idea about what they would like to create as a future. They think they’d like their life to continue to be better. That is not creating a future. The future is too important to be left to chance, and too imminent to ignore.
Over the next 25 years the world will undergo monumental changes: economic and demographic trends will shift, turning losers into winners, frontrunners into underdogs and turmoil for anyone not prepared. Rather than closing your eyes to forewarning indications and hoping that things don’t change too much, you must be willing to break with your own habitual points of view and discover different ways of seeing the world. It is crucial to embrace uncertainty and ambiguity, and fashion it into a prosperous way of life. Willingness to step beyond the unknown in this way can lead to major revolutions in many endeavours.
We prefer the idea of embracing change, uncertainty, and doubt, rather than running away from them. This can provide a strong sense of what is possible in the future and what isn’t. Constant, unrelenting change is the natural order of things you not only have to get used to, but have to learn to thrive on. Embracing the attitude that change is necessary and indispensable can lead to significant breakthroughs. Creation comes from change, and change is the harbinger of creativity. The most powerful tool you can use to get you ready for the impact of change, is to ask questions about your business. We have provided some questions at the end of this article that we use ourselves constantly and teach organizations to use to get themselves “future-ready”.
To thrive consistently over the long haul requires discipline and a reliable strategy for dealing with new opportunities and unforeseen adversities. You need to be open to playing an entirely new game and you must be willing to break out of conventional models that dictate how you are supposed to function. For you to thrive and prosper, you will have to turn yourself into a change agent.
If you wish to be a change agent and become a catalyst for change and transformation, you have to expand your zone of awareness. Awareness is the capacity to know everything. It is critical to achievement in all areas of your life. Awareness is the key to thrive in a world of disruptive innovation. It is a continuous, ever-moving, ever expanding possibility. To ally yourself with this state of being and the remarkable capacity for change it creates, there must be an essential shift in your attitude, your points of view, and your mindset. This shift in orientation requires new practices and the willingness to choose differently. If you wish to expand your zone of awareness, you have to be willing to receive everything. Receiving involves no resistance; it is about remaining constantly open, vulnerable, and unresisting to any energy.
The questions below will give you an idea of how to get started.
- What’s possible for our organization?
- What do I need to be aware of here?
- What emerging technologies could change the game? What can we do about this?
- Could there be future changes or surprises that could harm or benefit us?
- Where can I put my energy, that would change something?
Choice is the way to navigate change. Every choice you make creates awareness and determines what your future can be. What the world will be like in 20 to 30 years from now will depend as much or more on the choices made between now and then. It is important to consciously, intentionally, and deliberately think about future implications for every choice you make and for everything you do. What makes the future happen is what you do today, in the present moment. Your choices accumulate and have an effect on what future will look like. Everything is choice. Everything is infinite possibility.
Chutisa and Steven Bowman are internationally renowned advisors on strategy, risk, leadership, governance and creating a culture of strategic awareness at Board and senior executive levels. Together, they have authored Leading from the Edge of Possibilities and No More Business As Usual. Connect with them on No More Business As Usual and Pragmatic Futurist Blog.