Developing a Healthy Fear of Falling Behind

by | May 13, 2021 | Media & Resources | 0 comments

In the next 10 years we will experience more change than we have experienced in the last 100.  Our lives will continue to transform and our skill sets will need to be perpetually refreshed.  In the next 10 years you can expect to see a different way of life emerge because every new discovery creates new technology that leads to exponentially more discoveries.

Where we are heading…

By 2025 we are expecting to see people wear clothes that connect to the internet.  Imagine smart clothing that monitor’s health, interacts with appliances and more.  We will watch as the first robotic pharmacist is brought on–line, the first 3D printed car that goes into production, the first liver transplant to take place using a 3D printed liver, 10% of cars on the road will be driverless, and a possible Artificial Intelligence machine on a corporate board.

Demographics and societal shifts will continue to change in ways that will create opportunities and challenges.  In the United States we will see more grandparents than grandchildren, the economy will be propelled by the non-Western consumer for the first time in modern history, women globally will hold more wealth than men, and we will see more currencies than countries, more computers than human brains, and more robots than workers.

As we continue to move towards networks and easier access to technology, accessibility to success, notoriety and popularity will open to more people and create more disruption in established industries.  Pandemics will be more common, shifts in weather patterns will continue to occur, and cyber security will become even more paramount.  And we have not even discussed technological biohacking, augmented human beings, DNA storage and more.

While all of this occurs jobs will disappear and new roles will be created.  What used to be a predictable society, economy and social structure will no longer feel that way.  Life and careers must be viewed as a marathon.  Young adults entering the workforce will need to bring in income for 50 years or more when their skills will go stale in a fraction of that time; a decade or even a year.

Where we have been…

Those companies and individuals that hold on to the past will do so at their own peril.  Organizations were modeled off of the military hierarchy from the days of America’s independence.  A time when we did not have a volunteer army.  A time when people lined up in rows in a field and charged the other army.  Our organizations were based on a top down model; a model used to control people and get them to do things that they would not necessarily want to do.  Now we have a population that demands more technology that encourages networks at the expense of a hierarchy.  According to a 2016 KPMG Global Transformation study, 96 percent of organizations reported they were undergoing business transformations, but only 47 percent expected to realize sustainable value from those efforts and estimated 70% of change efforts fail.  Organizational change efforts are falling short in today’s modern era.

Individuals were built for stability.  We generally seek safety and comfort.  Many people are fearful of change.  We say people hate change when it happens to them, but embrace change when it happens with them.  However, only 20% of the population actually sets meaningful goals and 70% of those that set goals fail at achieving them.  We are hardwired to resist change. Part of the brain—the amygdala—interprets change as a threat and releases the hormones for fear, fight, or flight. Your body is actually protecting you from change.  That may have worked well years ago, but in today’s ever evolving world it holds us back.

What it all means…

Human beings and our organizations must begin a period of renaissance or rebirth.  However it must be a constant reawakening and revitalization that allows us to keep up with all of the change around us.  Much of what we know will need to be questioned.

Agility, the ability to move and think quickly and easily will separate those that struggle and fall behind from those that succeed and the separation will become much more pronounced.  Since all organizational change is a sum of individual changes, cultural agility will depend on those working in an organization and the culture bred within those figurative walls.  The top down approach will create failure.  After all, without people, change fails every time.  Organizations must create buy-in and a culture that embraces change.  Discomfort will be the norm.  People will need to become comfortable being uncomfortable or risk losing progress.  Regardless of what organizations choose, every individual must learn to thrive in change, grow comfortable with a bit of chaos and constantly refresh their knowledge and skills.  Here are 10 tips for prevailing in the future:

  1. Learn to play again and use your imagination.  Peter Pan may have had the right idea when he said he would never grow up.  Play makes us more resilient and creative; two skills we will need more of in the future.
  2. Try new things and go to new places.  Routine and predictability will cause you to resist change and hinder you from seeing things in a new way.  New experiences and travel help us learn and cope with stress better.
  3. Take up improvisation.  Improvisation is all about getting comfortable with not know what will happen next.  Comfort with the unknown will only serve you in the future.
  4. Forget the career ladder!  It is all about your career assets and your personal brand.  Think ahead 3-5 years and make sure you are prepared.  Know what makes you different, what makes you marketable.  Know your individual genius.
  5. Develop a healthy fear.  The fear of falling behind (FFB) also known as the fear of not keeping up (FONKU).  If you have that concern you will force yourself to change, grow and learn new things.
  6. Learn a new skill, language or capability.  Keep your brain active by taking classes or watching how-to videos.  Go back to school, pick up a certification, or learn to code. Push yourself and prove the old saying wrong…You can teach an old dog new tricks.
  7. Learn an instrument, pick up painting, write poetry or learn to compose music.  The arts are expressive and creative.  They are full of patterns and surprises.  Learning to appreciate all different types of art promotes empathy, curiosity and critical thinking.
  8. Increase your reading time.  Try reading a book or two a month.  Reading teaches you and keeps your brain very active.  Reading pushes the imagination and fills your head with new knowledge.
  9. Run an experiment or try to invent something.  Pick up an old science experiment kit or an erector set.  Building things and exploring science propels learning and a sense of what is possible.
  10. Define your purpose in life.  Determine your noble goal.  Noble goals shape your long term choices and create rich meaning in your life.  It is not something you attain, but something you live like or strive for in life.  Noble goals get us up in the morning and help us find the energy to do what we never thought possible.

The future is uncertain.  Whether it is scary or exciting will be up to you.  Turn your world upside down.  Change it up now.  Imagine the possibilities and then muster up the motivation to become a person of renaissance.  Own your future and be triumphant!

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