Publisher’s Perspective
Publisher’s Perspective
Publisher’s Perspective
Time To Begin Again

It is human nature to envision the future as a modified slice of the recent past. Thus, we expect the contours of the path ahead to look somewhat different but remain largely familiar and therefore comfortable. The last 50 years of relative stability have reinforced this myopic and narrow aspect of human expectations, rendering us ill prepared to address the changes ahead.

There is a term for prolonged and merciless disruption; it’s called transformation, and these are indeed transformative times. Like trying to see the forest when standing amongst the trees, it is hard to comprehend these persistent disruptions and resulting daily struggles as components of something much greater and much more consequential. But they are, in fact, monumental.

Transformational change is many things. It is exhilarating for its potential, terrifying for its uncertainty, and demanding for the perpetual vigilance and agility it commands. The one thing it is not is new. Today, changes long visible on once distant horizons are now upon us. They bring with them both the promise of grand achievement and the potential perils that befall those who fail to acknowledge change and adapt. The measure of each, to a great degree, will depend on how we respond both as individuals and, perhaps most importantly, as a global community.

Human history is well-seasoned with periods of transformative change and the opportunities, challenges, and conflict that accompany a transformed future. Today, the phrase if God had meant man to fly, he would have given him wings sounds ludicrous. However, it is simply evidence that achievements and challenges that shatter the imagination tend to unleash perspective informed by emotion rather than reason, science, or fact. Likewise, it is much easier to learn about the societal impacts of a transformative age like the Industrial Revolution than it is to participate in our generation’s equivalent.

Today, technical advancements, demographic shifts, and environmental changes are rapidly altering the landscape of our lives. We now shop and pay with our apps, dual-authenticate for security, and struggle to tease fact from fiction in our social media feeds. Increasingly, we even debate how, when, and where we should work and learn. These changes are made infinitely more complex as climate change laps at our doorstep and burns its way into the headlines, driving urgency to the exchange of gas stations for charging stations. Change abounds, and it is accelerating. How should we respond?

Like a beginner. While it is tempting to try and reconstruct the past in an endeavor to dwell in its familiarity, it’s also folly. A replica can never be built on a foundation that has been forever altered. Further, we need to acknowledge that while legacy experience has its benefits, it also often hobbles progress via its bias for precedent and prejudice for the convenience of habit. We need to start over, and we need to do so with a beginner’s mind, to approach everything as if we are experiencing it for the first time, with enthusiasm, open-mindedness, and the energy that inspires and empowers the previously unimagined.

Progress by its very nature is unfamiliar, and therefore both uncomfortable and disorienting. It absconds with our sense of place and leaves us fearful. This is the reason John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil fought to keep a new technology—electricity—from coming to market. He saw risk instead of potential. Imagine how different our life experience would be if he had succeeded. It is time to put fear aside, embrace the future, and begin again.

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Rick Thomas

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