When I was a kid the days seemed to go on forever and a year was almost impossible to comprehend. I totally get that as we grow older our perception of time changes in line with our age, based on the relative percentage of our life each unit of time represents; but nothing prepared me for this!
‘We can’t directly affect the pace of change but you can decide for yourself how you perceive it’
Strangely though, when I was younger all I could think about was the future. I was (and still am) a big Sci-Fi fan, I wanted the hoverboard, I couldn’t wait to travel as a disparate cluster of atoms only to reform on another planet. I was desperate for the future to arrive but it never did.
For at least the last 10 years, I’ve been getting increasingly interested in the pace of change. At first this was probably an unhealthy pursuit, it felt scary and out of control. The recognition of the phenomenon was causing me to get anxious and at times I felt overwhelmed, mostly due to the rapid growth in volume of, and access to, information.
I don’t know about you, but I was brought up to “watch the pennies” and to me that means getting a good deal. I’m also someone who is always hungry for new experiences, keen to try new things and explore existing interests.
You can imagine then, that living in London became more than just the rat race — My attention was being drawn from pillar to post, advertising, free publications, listings whetting my appetite for places to go and things to see; each idea followed up by internet searches for the best possible price.
It has taken time for me to come to terms with the pace of change and its trajectory. I was born in the 70’s and the world I was born into was normal for me and my contemporaries. That makes me part of Gen X (like I wanted a label) and these days everyone is talking about how to engage and involve Millenials (a somewhat meaningless term?). The simple fact is that the faster the pace of the world you were born into, the more comfortable you will be living with it’s exponential velocity.
Therefore, it should be getting easier for people to imagine the future, Millenials should be more than comfortable as custodians of the world they are starting to create. Visions of the future should be pretty positive, I am pretty optimistic, but most of the press narrative recently has been focusing on the negative impacts of the pace of change.
According to the tabloids and popular media, most jobs will be lost to robots and everyone else will be enslaved by zero hour contracts working for Uber, Deliveroo or Sports Direct.
Unscrupulous employers absolutely have to be held to account and publicly, but we should also shine a spotlight on the fundamental opportunity here. The world of work is changing and individual people can have control, choice, ownership and options our ancestors couldn’t even dream about.
In Maslow’s terms, more people than ever before can explore and realise their ambitions and potential, move beyond survival and thrive in a world they help to create every day through their pursuit of positive impact.
In the term’s of Illic, we can all be usefully unemployed on a journey of lifelong learning in a de-schooled society all thanks to unparalleled access to information through technology, our tools for conviviality.
Too often tech is put at the centre of the discussion but tech should only ever be the enabler. Moore’s Law has been used to track the pace of change but from a tech perspective. The exponential nature of this change has led to the concept of The Singularity, an “undeniable”(?) mathematical destination which has fuelled debate and imagination, shaped our creative outputs and permeated culture for some decades now.
We have made all sorts of attempts to predict the future and our position in it relative to technology. We are well down the road of augmented reality, had a taste of virtual worlds and it is only a matter of time before machine learning leads us to true Artificial Intelligence.
But until that time we are still at the epicentre — tech = tools. We still have enough control over our surroundings to be the architects, but are we still in control of the future, or are we destined to find ourselves at the mercy of machines as in the Matrix?
It is OK to imagine and explore potential futures, in fact we should all take time to reflect on what might be — acknowledging our own potential to co-create that future reality.
Here are some of my favourite books and films that spark the imagination, why not check one of these out this week?…
- The Matrix, simply the best film exploration of our relationship with technology and life beyond the Singularity
- Makers, where traditional business gets flipped on its head by a mixture of agility and surplus, accelerating product cycles but creating space for people to be themselves, creative
- The Host, how about if we have to share the planet with an alien race that isn’t aggressive but controlling, Would we be humble enough to learn from them and accept the change as progress?
- Ready Player One, can we gamify life to the point at which games take over? Is building a virtual reality, a version of the Singularity where the tech takes over by providing an upgrade to life. But at what cost?
- Blink, where knowledge meets experience to become pre-cognitive intuition that allows us to do things without even understanding how
- Fuck It, a Western take on the age old Eastern philosophy of acceptance
- Limitless, plays to our collective assumption that we are all destined for greatness as individuals, and why not? Maybe drugs are the key?
- The Power of Now, There are Sages and there are Charlatans and there are people who just speak the truth
- Lucy, with great power comes great responsibility but who is to say who should have it and when?
- Resonance, if you want to explore deep into the future it is difficult to comprehend anything much further out than this but the non-linear paths into the past and present help join the dots
- Star wars, shows us that the universal musings on good, evil and the force of nature that flows between all things will always appeal to every generation regardless of race, creed or religion
Bringing ourselves back to the present moment, we can certainly control our own individual perception of reality, that remains within our gift for now.
Mindfulness is perhaps an example of the cyclical road to renaissance I mentioned, a reaction to information overload and tech centricity that returns us to a more natural place to dwell.
It is one way to adjust our perception of the pace of change, but there are many more. Just by taking a more active interest and role in what is going on we can once again feel more in control. We can slow down time.
So I leave you with one last gift, here are 5 simple things you can do to slow down time, why not give them a go? And if you’re still short of time just give us a call…
- Listen to the sound of your own footsteps — No really, however stressed and overactive my mind and body gets, this brings me back into the moment instantly
- Drink more water, hydration = endurance, energy and inspiration
- Create more routine, you’re not getting old you’re getting organised and tuning into your own natural pace
- Be patient, everything has it’s own time, you can’t force things to happen — “Emotional responses and overreactions are the enemies of patience” Dr Bob Rotella Sports Psychologist
- Try not to worry! — Worry is the inappropriate use of imagination, direct it towards something positive and constructive like your future!
I’ve often caught myself using the term “Future-Proof”, who knows what the hell that even means?! It’s almost certainly an impossible concept, but the 5 actions above will go some way towards helping you manage your perceptions of change so you can live with (and thrive within) the levels of uncertainty it creates.
The pace of change will only continue to increase, whether we reach the Singularity or not we seem destined to haul the future ever closer to our present.
So, at last, today the future has arrived — But, I suppose it will arrive again tomorrow; only earlier!