It would be an understatement to say these are unusual and uncertain times. Times that make us question our plans, our hopes, and our dreams. Everything in our reality appears to be inverted or in chaos.
Everyone talks about the “new normal”, but normalcy won’t be returning. Is there a way to navigate this new turbulent reality?
In these times to think and prepare for the future, cast off any preconceived notions and paradigms. Let them go, for the old world is ending rapidly. The amount of dissonance from its demise, immeasurable. Clinging to the old ways during this transition will only cause pain and confusion. Be open and willing to change.
When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.Viktor E. Frankl
But, what then? If we cast off old models and patterns are left with nothing? No, we are only left with what is constant, what is true. In this mercurial space we must focus upon things that transcend borders, technology, and politics.
We must focus on the timeless aspects of life. Aspects that were around a hundred years ago, and that will be around a hundred more. While we may have switched from mail to videochat; connection, community, and story still remain. We have gone from oral traditions to apps like Clubhouse because history after all, likes to rhyme.
To navigate the uncertainty of these historic times one must be rooted in the fundamentals, of first principles, of truth. The laws of physics, math, and nature still apply to society no matter how wild it becomes.
A new crisis will appear tomorrow, but gravity will remain the same. The market will shift with the winds, but human nature will be steadfast. This way of thinking has become popularly known as “sensemaking”.
These laws, truths, or constants of nature are amoral. Many will over the coming years deride them be it: decentralization, atomization, exponential growth, human nature and more. This is a trap, which will cloud your judgement. Moralizing forces of change do not stop them. It just prevents you from adapting to them. The farrier cursed the car, but that did not stop it.
By rooting ourselves in these constants they become our bedrock against the torrent of change. A lighthouse of clarity in the ongoing tempest, which we now face. Allowing for decisive actions when necessary, as we no longer stand upon shifting sands or are clouded by the quagmire of indecision.
And make no mistake, those decisions will come.
On Building in Uncertain Times
Many have said it is time to build. However, in these times of uncertainty, building it seems is not only fruitless, but perilous. For what can we build now that everything is in flux? What can we build, not to mention, where can we build amongst the chaos?
Once more we must focus on the constants. Capitalism is about leverage. Time, capital, skills, your resume are all leverage. To succeed in uncertainty the fulcrum for leverage must be built upon a constant.
People will always want to get healthy, make money, desire an escape, signal status and want security. The how always changes, rarely the why. To put it more concretely: strategies rarely change, but the tactics do.
But what of the non-materialistic things, such as family or community? What is the bedrock for those? Values. Your values and principles govern how you live, view, and interact with the world. How you anchor them, be it Religion, Ideology, or Social Contract is your decision. Some of these may be Truths mentioned above. That’s fine, so long as it is constant. If not unexamined beliefs will end up being blindsiding you amidst the storm.
“The future is disorder. A door like this has been cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It is the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.”Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
With massive volatility comes great opportunity.
When everything is in flux, the most important things remain the same.