Below are some of the most notable quotes by Alvin Toffler, one of the world’s outstanding futurists and author of the books Futureshock in 1970 and the Third Wave in 1980.
What is apparent about these quotes is how relevant they are to our world today. We are undergoing increasingly rapid change and denying the reality of it only makes it hit us all the harder. Instead we need to learn to accept this reality which requires us to unlearn and untether ourselves from the foundations of our Old World, which are already breaking beneath our feet, and learn a new way of stabilizing ourselves within a much more fluid New World.
Only then will we be able to embrace this change, going more gently with the flow of it, rather than against it, thus allowing us to transition into this future less harshly than if we persist in ignoring the apparent reality of it.
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
Nobody knows the future with certainty. We can, however, identify ongoing patterns of change.
Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.
Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.
A new civilization is emerging in our lives, and blind men everywhere are trying to suppress it.
The first rule of survival is clear: Nothing is more dangerous than yesterday’s success.
The responsibility for change…lies within us. We must begin with ourselves, teaching ourselves not to close our minds prematurely to the novel, the surprising, the seemingly radical.
Humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognizing it, we are engaged in building a remarkable new civilization from the ground up. This is the meaning of the Third Wave.
Our moral responsibility is not to stop the future, but to shape it…to channel our destiny in humane directions and to ease the trauma of transition.
Individuals need life structure. A life lacking in comprehensible structure is an aimless wreck. The absence of structure breeds breakdown. Structure provides the relatively fixed points of reference we need. That is why, for many people, a job is crucial psychologically, over and above the paycheck. By making clear demands on their time and energy, it provides an element of structure around which the rest of their lives can be organized. The absolute demands imposed on a parent by an infant, the responsibility to care for an invalid, the tight discipline demanded by membership in a church or, in some countries, a political party — all these may also impose a simple structure on life.
To survive, to avert what we have termed future shock, the individual must become infinitely more adaptable and capable than ever before. We must search out totally new ways to anchor ourselves, for all the old roots – religion, nation, community, family, or profession – are now shaking under the hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust.
The most important thing is to understand the general outlines of where we’re going.
Yesterday while reading a series of quotes by Alvin Toffler and noticing how they resonated with quotes from Richard Barrett’s book The New Leadership Paradigm, something dawned on me. For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to initiate the culmination of my life’s work under my Be Real Creative mantra as a transformative creative agency itself but no matter how I approached it, it always felt wrong…that is until today.
Today I realized that all of my previous attempts always felt wrong because I felt like I had to have everything figured out first, to have “all of the answers” if you will to sound like an “expert”. Yet life doesn’t work this way. Only through doing first, do we reflectively make sense of our lives looking back upon it. Therefore in going forward, I need to embody this same approach.
Therefore Be Real Creative isn’t so much the answer to everything, rather it is the question to everything that will lead me on my quest. And that question is “Can role playing game techniques combined with the symbolism of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey be used as metaphorical visual aids to better understand the psychological development framework within Richard Barrett’s work, particularly the mapping and exploration of our inner terrain, as well as the fearful demons that we must face there?”
At the same time, in trying to tackle this question as a quest, I realize that it not only communicates what I’m doing with my life’s work but how I’m doing it differently from others. In effect, just communicating an understanding of a psychological developmental framework as something new to people doesn’t interest me. I want to communicate it in such a way and with an existing metaphorical language, that it seems immediately old and recognizable to those who are familiar with this language (which also reveals that they are apparently my tribe and audience I’m trying to reach as well).
I’ve recently realized something fairly profound and it ties into a metaphor that I’ve been using over the years to try to make sense of my life as a whole. All of us are effectively immigrants now and are travelling to a New World, whether we like it or not. I’ve been fortunate, if you want to even call it that, in that I’ve been introduced to these changes far sooner than others have and thus I’ve become aware of these bigger changes that are profoundly affecting all of our lives but for the most part are invisible to most people.
The more I understood these changes and how we had to adapt to them, changing the way we not only perceive our society but our very selves, the more invigorated I felt because I felt like I could truly help people on a massive scale. There was only one obstacle in my way though. How do you communicate and persuade people of these massive changes occurring invisibly all around them, so that they can initiate their journey and be more capable of adapting to them?
For the longest time, I envisioned in my mind two worlds, our Old World which most of us still live within and our New World, of which few have found its shores. I have been to this New World and for the most part have travelled across it, visiting different places to try to understand its culture and its language, which is paradoxically different than our Old World.
Travelling back to the Old World with this knowledge of the New World, I have for the most part been accepted with confusion or derision at what I communicate of it. Even more so, I often get uncomfortable and somewhat angry stares at explaining the shortcomings of our Old World and how they can be alleviated in the New World.
So for the longest time, I’ve felt stuck between these two worlds, since people within the Old World, who I want to help, are evidently not ready to leave it. So no matter what you say, you are not going to get them to accept or believe in what you have to say…until they are ready and primed for this shift and change themselves.
Thus the feeling I’ve had for myself (and actually the change agent community online as a whole) is one in which we are continually travelling back and forth between these worlds but we haven’t been very successful in helping ferry people across to it, so as to help them avoid a painful journey.
Today I realized why. Today I realized that the obstacle isn’t out there, it’s within me. I’m the obstacle. Trying to persuade and convince people to change doesn’t solve anything. All it does is make them more resistant and adverse to change. So my actions are not only not helping others, they are not helping myself in trying to achieve my life’s work.
So what’s the answer to my dilemma then? It’s obvious, isn’t it, now that I actually see it. If I just stop rushing around and trying to “convert and save people” in the Old World, sounding like some “The End of the World is Here!” crazy person on the street, I’d see that over in the New World, if I just remain patient and observant, there are already people washing up upon its shores confused and alone.
These are the people I need to be helping because they don’t need convincing or persuading. There lives have already changed and are already still changing and they know it. They just can’t figure out what to do next because the common sense that they used within the Old World no longer works and makes sense within this New World. In effect, they now have to go through an arduous sense making process of figuring out how this New World works, just like I did.
So I need to be the very person that I was looking for when I first washed up upon the shores of this New World confused and alone so many years ago myself. What help and answers was I looking for then? What reassurances was I looking for? “No, you haven’t gone crazy. Yes, the world has changed. Yes, most people aren’t aware that it has changed. Yes, what you’re experiencing is completely normal even though it feels completely abnormal.”
So all said and done, it’s not about being in the Old World and trying to aggressively push people through The Portal to this New World. It’s about being patient within the New World and helping to pull people out of the waters upon the shores of it. In effect, I really don’t have to do anything. I just need to let nature takes its course and be aware of the signs of when someone “arrives” on its shores.