537141_pasta_noodles_1We’ve been largely educated to see the world in segments; in specialities that we can use to solve problems.

For a long time, that served us well. We have learned a huge amounts in these segments, and will continue to mine them.

However, we also now know enough to understand that they are not separate at all.

They are interdependent, random, and change by the moment depending on everything from our knowledge and mood to the company we keep. In the parlance, they are level 2 chaos – we are part of the challenge, not observers.

When things get messy, it’s who we are that matters, not the badges (Qualifications, Professions) we wear.

As we approach the project that is 2017, things promise to get messy. 2016 looks like it will have been a dress rehearsal.

Whether that mess is joyous or calamitous is for us to decide. It will be whatever we choose.

Three things we can do to make it joyous:

  1. Be clear on our sense of purpose. How will the world be better when you leave because you’ve been here?
  2. Understand what you love to do, and do more of it. (Hint: The world doesn’t need more money)
  3. Pick your partners. When it gets messy, you’ll need them as much as they need you, and that’s not the time to find out the mistakes you have made.

Into the unknown


One of the challenges of revolutions is that we’re not sure we’ve been in one until it’s over.

  • Those of us in our forties will be physically capable of working to 90.
  • The nature of the job is changing. The job horizon is the end of the project you’re on.
  • The competition for your next project is increasingly likely to be a form of automation as another person.
  • Knowledge is ubiquitous. What you know is a commodity.
  • Big organisations are cumbersome. Elephants may be able to dance, but only like those eliminated early on in Strictly.

Welcome to 2017

  • You’re future wellbeing is a factor not of qualifications or experience.
  • Understanding who you are, your purpose, and how you might serve that is the new MBA.
  • Your organisation cannot protect you. Even if it wanted to. It’s more vulnerable than you are.
  • Your opportunities are immense.

Think of it like your fitness training regime. Once you know how to use the machines, once your Fitbit is telling you what your metrics are, you’re into routine maintenance. constant incremental improvement at what you are doing. Your coach can advise, tell you how to improve, and motivate you. But that’s a finite horizon. It’s a project. In reality, you rarely need a coach for the routine stuff. Paying somebody to help you warm up and cool down is not smart.

It’s the next bit. The next project. The one where neither you, nor your coach knows the way. New territory. It changes everything:

It’s going to stretch you beyond reason. You need a coach, but as a fellow traveller, not a guide. She’s learning and discovering every bit much as you – but you’re better together. You need their skills, not so much for what they know, as who they are and what they are committed to. It’s like the move from the climbing wall to free climbing on the moon.

We can get consumed in delivering the here and now project, using what we know, being praised for it, and well rewarded. But if you’re not scared, you’re not learning. If you’re not learning, you’re likely condemned to a series of similar projects and ever reducing fulfilment. Your next project should scare you.

2017 is not a year, it’s a project.