Never before have we lived in a world changing more rapidly. Futurist David Houle, author of Entering the Shift Ageand The 2020s: the Most Disruptive Decade in History, asserts that we no longer live in a world where it is “the survival of the fittest,” rather, the future is a world where it is “the survival of the adaptive.”
What does this mean for you as a conscious leader and ambitious professional? It requires embracing an agile mindset and a pragmatic, flexible approach to life in general and to your career in particular. It requires balancing two apparently opposing concepts:
- The need to move fast and take action with less effort
- The awareness and acceptance that issues are inherently complex, fraught and critical to solve well
You need to simultaneously make it take less energy and effort to act while also respecting the multi-dimensionality of every situation you find yourself in. The opportunity of embracing this duality is that you can get out of your own way and become more impactful than ever before. You’ll achieve a sense of fulfillment, meaning and a deep sense of grounding in your life and work.
Like the transition from individual to leader, the journey to fulfillment and impact in a time of disruption is a worthwhile pursuit. It can help you reconcile a feeling of helplessness in the face of adversity with a sense of purposeful forward motion. In a time when the world seems to be shifting under your feet, it is possible to ground yourself so that you feel both agile and secure. You’ll be able to navigate with intention in the moment and at the end of your life looking back, feel that you have lived a life and had a career that you can take pride and satisfaction in. The connection between your journey and the impact that your actions and achievements can have on your fellow humans, and the systemic challenges your community faces, provide both a sense of peacefulness and energy, and ultimately personal and professional reconciliation.
The microcosm of the moment we are in takes on an appropriate sense of importance when you telescope out to 10,000 feet and view it from the perspective of the larger trajectory of time and space. Yes, short term, things are ambiguous, unsettled, and as Houle calls it, “cataclysmic.” However, these disruptions are in service of ushering in a profound shift that can lead to a bright future for humanity, should we decide individually and collectively to heed the call.
Surrounded by the uncertainty, complexity, and challenge that our world is facing right now, it is no wonder that many of us are experiencing the crushing desire for meaning and impact more than ever before. Our global community needs each one of us to operate at our highest level to help address the complex challenges this moment presents to our humanity. This is an unprecedented time imploring us to develop personal and professional responsibility in service of not only our own fulfillment but the greater impact on the larger ecosystem in which we live.
– This is an excerpt from the preface of Merideth Mehlberg’s forthcoming book, Lively-hood: Cultivating Career Agility in a Complicated World. Merideth coaches leaders to define their path through complexity to intention, fulfillment, and impact. Intrigued? Learn more here.