The other end of the telescope

telescope1“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” -R. Buckminster Fuller

Our dislike of change is visceral. Our natural state is to be threatened by it. Uncertainty triggers the same neural circuits as fear, and generates similar responses – fight, flight, freeze.

But what if we looked at it differently? What if we learnt to handle it in the same way as those who face danger for a living – by understanding it, and harnessing it rather than be controlled by it?

The change we fear is not going away. It is accelerating. 7 million people on a resource constrained planet, all within digital reach of each other powered by ever more creative technology. Random is the new normal.

The future is messy. The certainties we like to deal with – processes, procedures, routines – all of these will increasingly be dealt with by intelligent machines. Algorithms don’t care how complicated things are – they can do complicated all day long.

That leaves us humans to deal with the messy stuff – the complex, unpredictable, unexpected, scary things. We’re way better than machines at that (for now at least) providing we can get over our fear of it.

In his book “Anti -Fragile” Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers us a way of thinking about this. He argues that the opposite of fragile (which is how many of us feel right now) is not resilience, or robustness. It is not about “recovery”. It is “anti fragility”.

Rather than look to recover from shock, we need to use it to energise ourselves to create new models and ways of doing things. Rather than run, fight or freeze in the face of change, we need to improvise. To welcome change as an engine for growth.

That means changing our relationship with change. We need to learn to love it. Unlike Machines, we can create and originate, not just produce.

It is our humanity that is the key, not our efficiency, or obedience, or power.

If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less” General Eric Shineseki.

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