Publisher’s Perspective
Publisher’s Perspective
Publisher’s Perspective
Seeking Opportunity
What comes to mind when you hear the term “hunter-gatherer”? It is likely that you envision a primitive person or tribe wandering the Savanna or a dense forest in search of edible plants and grubs with the occasional good fortune to secure a source of animal protein. And of course, in the evening, seeking shelter from the elements and the wilds of the night. These images are likely accurate, but if we think about these activities in a more fundamental way, it becomes clear that what they were really doing was seeking opportunity in an environment that was ever-changing and that they struggled to comprehend and control. Sound familiar?

Today, we are the ones foraging for opportunity in an environment of ceaseless change that we struggle to comprehend, navigate, and manage. It’s true, most of us have the good fortune of knowing where we will find our next meal, and likely have confidence that we will have a safe place to rest our head at the end of the day. However, progressively few have the sense of understanding and ease about the future that will allow them to rest their minds. The fact is, even those that are aggressively working to protect and cultivate the status quo find that their comfort zones are increasingly barren of the familiar and predictable. Few possess the confidence in tomorrow that they once did.

Archaeological records tell us that humankind did not settle into a more stable and predictable way of life until it gained a greater understanding of its operating environment. This accumulated knowledge about the seasons and local flora and fauna gave rise to a level of understanding that not only powered agriculture and the domestication of animals, but also fostered an increased sense of security and wellbeing. It provided the confidence in tomorrow that permitted communities to invest, innovate, and prosper.

Millennia have passed since these ancient times, and our understanding of the natural world is infinitely vaster by comparison; however, the drivers of human behavior remain unchanged. We seek security, and we derive our sense of security from our understanding of our operating environment and our ability to reliably anticipate the future.

This understanding is eroding because of the tumultuous change we are experiencing globally and personally. Borrowing from a recent movie title: Everything is changing, everywhere, all at once. Our confidence and sense of security have been shaken. How should we respond? With a hunter-gatherer’s mindset. Hunter-gatherers were not confident that they could control the world around them; they were confident in themselves. They knew from experience that they had the ability to change along with their environment. They knew how to adapt and optimize their response to the day’s obstacles and opportunities. We must do the same.

Throughout human history our improved understanding of the world has inevitably changed our experience of it. Moreover, each time we make the arduous journey between these waypoints of human accomplishment, we mistakenly relax into the shade of our achievements. We incorrectly assume that the journey is over and that we have arrived at our final destination. What we fail to realize is that we will, in time, be pulled forward by our innate curiosity and the need to solve challenges that are inexorably associated with progress.

It is typical to think of a hunter-gatherer mentality as primitive. On the contrary, it is simply the mindset best suited for navigating risks and seizing emerging opportunities in an environment of continuous change and uncertainty, environments like the one we live in today.

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Rick Thomas
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