EXPERIMENT — DON'T PLAN — YOUR WAY INTO THE LIFE YOU WANT
This article is a collaboration with Gibran Rivera
The world is not the same as it was 50, 20, even 5 years ago. So why should our preparation for it be?
We’ve been taught that success comes when we make a career plan, earn our degrees, and work hard. But according to the World Economic Forum, two-thirds of current middle school students will end up working jobs that haven’t even been invented yet! That $200,000 degree you earned barely guarantees you’ll be debt-free before you have grandkids. We can’t plan our way to happiness and career success anymore.
We are in a world transitioning between two paradigms. We are familiar with the first one. We have grown up with it. We have been educated in it and by it. It’s the one fighting so hard to stay in control. It’s based in the carbon economy and has every system designed to feed the economic engine. Even our education trains us to serve the industrial system rather than unlock our greatest potential as individuals.
There’s also the emerging paradigm. You can feel it around you. It’s made up of people on the periphery. Maybe you’re one of them. You’ve shunned the current system (or maybe it’s shunned you). You’re trying to forge ahead working in the grey areas between the old and new. Or maybe you’re struggling to find an opportunity in a world that doesn’t value the skills you were brought up on.
Why does our world feel so unsettled today? We’re living between these two distinct paradigms and the world in transition is Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous. We call this VUCA, and there is no shortcut out of it. If there’s no way out, we need to learn how to thrive in it. We need to learn how to surf.
Surfing the waves of VUCA
Sand doesn’t taste good. Ask any surfer. But to become one, you’ve got to be ready to eat sand. Most of the time, in fact, you eat sand. You crash, get rolled over in the surf, pull yourself back up to the surface, follow your line to your board, crawl back on top and paddle out to take on another wave. This is also how we thrive in a VUCA world.
But they promised us normalcy!
Of course we’re angry. Everything is accelerating. Our teachers, our parents, our television and movies, they promised us a world that was “normal” and predictable. We don’t live in that world. Ours is complex and growing more so by the second. Our evolutionary response is to accelerate. The problem is that as complexity continues unabated, we are reaching the upper threshold of our acceleration capacity — as individuals and communities.
How many of us feel like we are going too fast?
There is always something to read, learn, post, acquire or achieve.
We’ll never get there.
We need a different response because we need something different.
So how do we build for success and happiness if we can’t predict the future — if we can’t plan for a career or choose a path with any confidence that the road will literally disappear after we’ve driven along it for years? We believe the solution lies in an entirely different model of education and development rooted in three core principles: intention, connection and rapid experimentation.
We focus in on our purpose and anchor to it. We nurture our personal power and authenticity and hone in on our vision for ourselves in this volatile world. We build resilience and a growth mindset by practicing to be more fully present and getting comfortable in the unknown.
We build a community and support systems with people on a similar journey. We hold one-another accountable to achieving our goals. No one survives these tectonic shifts without the generosity and trust of others.
3. Rapid Experimentation
We commit to experimenting relentlessly. We thrive through action in an unpredictable world where old-fashioned planning becomes obsolete. We get comfortable in the ‘gap’ between what we want to put out into the world and what our early iterations actually are.
We can’t find our place in this emergent world through planning. We experiment our way to the future we want for ourselves. It is this shift in posture that allows to thrive in a VUCA world. We become surfers, comfortable eating sand. We meet others on the journey who help clean us off as we return the favor. We connect. We grow, and we learn. This is how a new paradigm begins to emerge.