Have you ever wondered, or wondered lately: What’s the world I am living in? What’s this world becoming? If you haven’t, pause now and ask these questions. And then, carry on reading as I help you make some sense of it, with the meaning I have been able to extract.
The world around us has always been changing. However, in the last 30 years, it has been changing faster than ever before. This change has not only been accelerating, but has been becoming chaotic, random, and unsettling. A lot of this change has been supposedly desirable to humans, but much of the change has also brought undesirable consequences. For one, everything around us seems to be stirring our ways of life, resulting in new ways of seeing and reacting to the reality around us.
If you compare life to what it was 20-30 years back; we have –
- More technology around us
- More flow of knowledge and information
- More ways of getting connected to our loved ones
- Almost everything is near real-time
- We have more transactions per day
- Organizations are doing better and different kinds of things
- There is a business opportunity in almost everything that human’s need
- Humans feel they need a lot more than they needed back then
Around 35 years back economists Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus coined the term VUCA world. However, today’s world is a baking and making of that VUCA phenomenon with an added frenzy and flurry. What was then more of a macro phenomenon, has today created many macro and micro phenomena. We are living in a world where beautiful opportunities and significant chaos is coexisting. Even though for every bad thing in our world there are 5 – 10 good things that happen; the inherent chaos in our world today has the power to consume us like never before. COVID-19, wars, and climate change are not the only threats. Grief, struggle, hunger, hate, anger and so much more is lingering and lurking around freely.
Neither individuals nor organizations are prepared to handle this ever-evolving environment. The reality though is that governments, society, corporations, opinion makers, families, and individuals all need to realize and respond to what’s stirring all of us. And what’s stirring us, in my opinion, is a world that can be distinguished as a TODAV world.
In the Transactional world – People are busier than ever, there is a long and never-ending TODO list, enough and more distractions around and everyone is always ‘on the go’. We all have FOMO (fear of missing out) on one thing or the other; and this is true for individuals, organizations, communities, and even governments. Most of our pursuits are about just getting through with life than about meaningful living. Loyalty is rare in most areas, as alternatives for everything from products to services to jobs to people are enough and more. Many of the good changes in our world have made the world busy, and our lives extremely transactional, and hence collectively our society is transactional.
In the Opportunistic world – every person, pressed by the speed of the transactional world, is trying to get the most of everything at the fastest rate possible. There is a race for everything, and everyone wants to win, in every race, and is turning to every source of advantage without really accessing the utility or impact of actions. Clutter is common, and minimalism is hardly practiced in this world. While there are many making good business sense of this, it has all come down to taking more and more from our planet and from each other. The opportunity is so blinding that people have become non-responsive to real/beneficial stimuli, and randomly respond to the most tempting stimuli.
In the Divisive world – since people & systems are transactionally distracted and opportunistically predisposed, a large group/type of people is busy creating opinions and dividing the world. This pack has opinion leaders, politicians, organizations, NGOs, government agencies, and who knows who else is there in it!!! As a result, our world is severely divided in every aspect one can think of, less loyal and far more fragmented than in our entire history. Possibly, like a pre-World-war II era, we are taking too many sides and hardstands. Anyone who has an opinion today thinks it is worth it to express it, and they have platforms and followers to spread it. So much for free speech! Opinions are great, if verified and good for collective progress. Justice for one, cannot be an injustice to another. Value centricity seems to be at its lowest and getting worse.
In the Antsy world – with all the TOD influence, people, families, and all kinds of groups are agitated, impatient, or restless more than ever. The more we look around, the more we will find that: suddenly what is peaceful, is erupting for no reason; what’s steady is being torn apart; what’s cohesive is being broken down; and more. And invariable, it is an antsy person or antsy bunch of people who are bringing things down, just because it doesn’t serve their best-vested interest, even when it is evidently hurting others many times over. Individual, societal, and organizational peace and happiness are on a decline in most cases. In other places, it is taking a ton of more effort to keep things happy and peaceful, as compared to just 10 years back.
In the Variable world – all of this is adding up and causing things to move with no fixed patterns. From weather to economies to social-cultural systems to the concept of families & relationships, in our world today, very little is consistent. Unsettled, temperamental, fickle, blow-hot blow-cold and unpredictable are becoming common adjectives that can be universally used. As a race, we have no clear unanimous direction or path, especially when we are living in times where all human options are failing, and so are our backups. No one knows what things will be like 5-10 years down the line.
TODAV world challenges us at multiple levels and for us to find our way, we must pause and ask questions yet again:
- What’s the world we are living in, and how do I make it better?
- What’s the world becoming, and how do I play a part in making it sustainable?
- How do we make sense of things around us, and how can we bring more sensibility to play?
- Where do we start from and where do I start making contributions?
- What is our quality of life becoming, and how do I stop making it worse and start contributing to improving it?
Answering these questions will usher in a pivotal point where one can choose not to engage with this chaos and rather build a progressive systematic world around us as individuals, leaders and as catalysts. These are times when decisive actions are needed for our collective future. And the first few steps that we can take are to build our thinking, feeling and identity:
So, one may ask how can we have clarity and find our path through this TODAV world and help the world around us, when everyone else also seems to be losing their peace? The good news is that we still have a few things that are in our control, which can help us navigate through this perplexing environment:
The answer from here is for each of us to develop a MIDAS approach to living to tide this TODAV world. MIDAS is a callout for everyone, individuals, and groups alike; institutions and organizations included.
Living a Mindful life – It is pertinent for us to be present, healthy, informed, at the moment and deliberately thoughtful. Our best responses can only be born out of an understanding of the real problems or the real world. It is only through such understanding that we can act on what’s good for us collectively as families, society human race and our planet.
Living with an Inquisitive approach – Our mindfulness must lend us a purposefully curious nature. Our individual and collective focus must move to know the truth behind any message. As individuals and collectively we must believe only what is verified – or verifiable. Staying alert is no more a should do, rather alertness is a virtue we need to cultivate. We must make it a habit of consuming only real information and have a strong crap radar/junk filter.
Living to become Deep – Growth has always been a universal value, but in our times, the value has to be: growth to become deep individuals, communities, and organizations. We don’t have the luxury of being shallow anymore, and this is for our own collective sake. Cultivating a desire for deep roots, value orientation, practicing mid and long-term thinking while keeping our flexibility and practicing change purposefully are all going to be relevant pursuits for the next few decades. In fact, one prominent pursuit for each of us should be developing the immediate circle around us, at home, at work and in society.
Living in an Assured state – Now more than ever, we need to anchor in self-belief and confidence. Everywhere, we need to be systemically clear of what the collective purpose is. Whether in intuitions or in families, we must know what’s a universally acceptable path to take. Thereafter believing in and walking that chosen path should be a way of life. Changes can no more be awaited. We must practice knowing and creating changes continuously to stay relevant.
Living with a Sensitive – Sensible – In all our pursuits, the self-others-environment has to progress simultaneously. We must engage with others meaningfully, being focused on creating values for ourselves & others and practicing positivity in everything. Our progress cannot be at the cost of others. Our progress has to be linked to that of others. And such an approach will take the attention of all our senses and mind.
As a citizen & individual in this society, consciously practice MIDAS and leave everything better than you found it. This will help you stay away from the chaos and prevent you from creating chaos. Weigh your opinions and actions. Stabilize your interactions and contributions. Compulsions cannot run our lives anymore; sensibility must.
As an individual, a business leader and/or as a catalyst, it is important for you to create dialogues about TODAV and MIDAS, steer opinions and consciously choose decisions and actions based on MIDAS. Support your surroundings, your organization and individuals in making this transition. In the end, choose a purpose that is inclusive and stay away from shallow pursuits.
There is a lot of good out there, and there is also hope. But the future requires us to act and live a MIDAS life. Wishing us a good one!
Sai Kumar Chandran is the founder of OrbitShift. He is a coaching and consulting practitioner and an entrepreneur at heart. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.