Alvin Toffler on Embracing Change

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.


Be Real Creative: The Quest(ion)

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).


Shore Watching

Helping weary immigrants out of the waves of change.

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.

Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash.

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.


Why Politics Are Failing People

Damon Linker over at The Week has an article entitled Why Obama Still Drives Republicans Nuts which pretty much articulates why politics are failing so many people today. First he indicates what politics used to be.

The politics of democracy is a contest to win the greatest number of votes — a plurality; or even better, a bare majority; and best of all, an overwhelming majority. This aim is what drove politics in this country through most of the 20th century. In the primaries, candidates sought out the sweet spot within their own parties, whether through winning support from party insiders — or, with the reforms that began after 1968, through winning the votes of party members in state primary and caucus elections. But in the general election, the two sides competed to find the center of public opinion in the country as a whole.

Each party’s presidential ticket did this by making a pitch for the whole: This is how I see America. This is what I think of our ideals, our history, our actions in the past and present, and our destiny moving forward into the future. The candidate who got the most people to endorse his comprehensive vision of the nation would win the presidency, with the victor usually earning a majority of the popular vote, and sometimes an overwhelming majority, as happened in 1964, 1972, and 1984.

And then he articulates what politics has become.

But as the GOP vote share in national elections has declined (since 1988, the Republican nominee has won a majority of the popular vote in a presidential contest only once, in 2004, and then with just 50.7 percent), the party has moved away from trying to win the presidency by receiving the most votes in favor of trying to generate incredibly intense support among its own party members, dividing the opposition, and prevailing through a counter-majoritarian outcome in the Electoral College. George W. Bush experimented with this approach in his re-election bid, but it is Trump who deployed it to greatest effect in 2016, and who has governed that way since taking office.

It’s the politics of populism that provides the rationale and playbook here. Populism differs from democratic majoritarianism in treating only some of the people — one’s own supporters — as the real people. Those who vote for the Republican are the true Americans. Those who oppose the Republican are false or fake Americans.

In effect, there is little interest in trying to understand the needs and perspective of those different from you. “It’s our way or the highway.” “You’re either with us or against us.”

But one “side” isn’t to “blame” for this. Politics as a whole has regressed to this level.

If I could alter future elections, I’d love it for political debates to be centred around the ability of candidates to be able to clearly articulate the needs of the opposing parties. And the better they could do this, the more they would show their leadership capabilities overall.

I think it would radically change politics.


Thanking Our Self vs Fighting Our Self

This morning, while reading parts of Lisa Laskow Lahey and Robert Kegan’s Immunity to Change book, I was surprised by how it’s approach is remarkably similar to the Two Loops Model which is a theory of change by the Berkana Institute. What I mean by this is that there isn’t an emphasis on creating a conflict between the old and new system (i.e. seeing one as “bad” and the other “good”) but rather it’s about seeing each system as a natural part of a larger dynamic.

For example, in Immunity to Change, when one realizes that one’s “bad” behaviours are arising out a previous “good” (albeit now archaic) system which is trying defend and protect you (ie “save your life”), one’s perception suddenly changes towards these behaviours, recognizing and valuing them now for their previous “brilliant and highly effective” service.

So it’s not so much that we want to get rid of and discard the “valued service” of our previous identity and sense of self, which has helped us grow and evolve to where we are now, but rather we want to recode it, so it’s no longer working against us and impeding our further growth. Note that this directly correlates with what happens when one evolves to a higher stage of development. It’s not about getting rid of and discarding a previous stage but recoding it so that all attained stages to date can be maintained in a spectrum, allowing us to maintain different needs at different stages, while being open to further growth at the same time.

However, in some instances an immune system can threaten our continued good health. When it rejects new material, internal or external to the body, that the body needs to heal itself or to thrive, the immune system can put us in danger. In these instances the immune system is no less focused on protecting us. It is just making a mistake. It does not understand that it must alter its code. It does not understand that, ironically, in working to protect us, it is actually putting us at serious risk.

Immunity to Change

Actually now that I think about, this also remarkably reminds me of a Tiago Forte’s article on leveraging constraints, in particular this quote below.

The difficulty in applying this concept to individual learning is that, in this case, you are the system. It’s a little disconcerting being accelerated, turned inside out, and then sucked into an alternate dimension where everything you were sure was true is wrong. Or worse, irrelevant.

Tiago Forte, The Throughout of Learning


From Finding Answers To Finding Questions

Finding the questionable source of our creative ocean within our streams of thought.

For many years, I’ve kept reiterating that what brings people purposefully together aren’t answers but questions. That’s because these questions are like quests that bring a “company“ of people together, all adventuring for the same thing.

While reading more of How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens, it’s becoming more and more evident to me that this intuition I’ve had about questions forms the basis of one’s research or work, as described in the book.

In effect, most of what we connect with in our daily lives usually ties into an open question in our life that we’re trying to answer. Thus, when we bump into something during our journey, we compare it with one of these overarching questions (as Richard Feynman describes) to see if what we’ve found is meaningful and matters in trying to answer this specific question.

If what we’ve found is meaningful then we collect it as a step in our larger journey of trying to answer this question. What I’ve just described here is described as a sequence in terms of note taking within Sönke Ahrens’ book. In effect, it’s a stream or clustering of notes that all relate to something meaningfully important to you.

But the thing that is becoming so very evident to me is that instead of just doing the obvious which is getting excited when we find new information and knowledge that we can add to this stream, we need to also step back and immediately go beyond this as well.

Why? Because the thing to realize is that more often than not, a lot of these things we’re connecting with and collecting aren’t completely self-evident to us at first. More often than not, especially within my own life, they’ve just been a feeling or an intuition to follow. It’s only after I’ve explored them for a while, which requires trusting myself that this feeling will lead somewhere, that they finally reveal themselves to me (i.e. I never fully realized I was researching creativity until almost a decade after research “it”).

So all said and done, more and more I’m realizing that instead of continually looking downstream of my thoughts to see and find what will emerge as an answer, the greater importance is more to look upstream at its source to see and find what is the question that is producing this stream of thought in the first place.

Because more and more it feels like when I collectively understand these key questions that are producing these creative flows within my life, it will in turn help me understand how all of these streams of thought are connecting up and becoming an empowering larger river that eventually leads to an inspiring ocean and a new world of possibilities beyond it.


The Fear of Being Unable to Articulate Oneself

Thinking that you’re crazy because you’re unable to express what you know.

For the longest time, I’ve been trying to articulate any dominate fears that I have. It’s been difficult because I don’t see many blockades in my life’s work because I love exploring the unknown and going off the edge of the map of the known world. So I’m not really fearful in exploring things that would radically cause future shock in others because they’ve become common place and common sense for me now.

Yet at the same time, over the past few years, I feel like I’m been hitting a wall more and more that I can’t seem to get over. This wall is a fear. Yet trying to see what this fear is has been difficult. It primarily arises after I make a major breakthrough, experiencing a massive high at some discovery that helps me see things in a broader way. Yet immediately following that, when I try to write about what I’ve discovered and have seen, I freeze up and I’m unable to express what I’ve seen and understood.

At first, I thought the problem was that I truly didn’t understand what I was seeing because being unable to articulate what you’re seeing is a common sign that you don’t actually understand what you’re seeing. Richard Feynman emphasized this and mentioned that giving a lecture on what you think you know is a good way to see if you truly understand what you know.

For myself, I truly believe I understand what I’m seeing but it felt like something else was getting in the way of expressing what I know. While reading How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens (which also emphasizes being able to articulate what you know as well), he mentioned that your “permanent” notes eventually heighten your intuition, allowing you to see the invisible connections between things that may not have been visible to you before. Seeing this word intuition over and over again, finally woke me up to why I was hitting this wall.

I’m strongly intuitive by nature, so much so that I’m able to be see patterns and connections between things often far sooner than others around me. What might take them a year or two to see some patterns and the connections between them, might take me a couple of weeks. For example, I’ve had people from previous jobs tell me years later that what I was seeing within the organization at the time, they finally saw a few years later, even though at the time we worked together, they couldn’t see what I was seeing.

Because of my ability to utilize and trust my intuition so strongly, I’m able to visibly see these connections between things that are often “below the surface” and invisible to others (i.e. an organization’s culture). Deciding to do a simple search on Google, I wrote “is intuition understanding something if you can’t articulate it”. And sure enough the top result returned what I intuited and expected with an article entitled 5 Tips for Intuitive Types Who Can’t Explain Their Vision.

Intuition trains you to make sense of these thoughts without examining every detail. But details matter when you are trying to explain your ideas.

5 Tips for Intuitive Types Who Can’t Explain Their Vision

This quote above, from the introduction of the article, pretty much sums up my experience as someone who strongly relies upon their intuition. It’s easy to see these things for me, often in vivid, visual detail, as it’s like having this “big picture” within my head, almost like another world I’ve explored (with travel photos of it in my mind). But the difficultly arises when one returns from visiting this world and is unable to articulate what one has seen there.

While this might seem foreign for someone to understand and grasp, based upon their own personality type, what I find really interesting here is the very next sentence after the quote above is this one.

Overlooking a word or feature can cause complete misunderstanding – as if you are speaking a different language.

So within my mind, I’m not just pretending to visit this place, I’m actually going there, like I’m a tourist visiting a new country or an explorer visiting a new world. And to really articulate what you’re seeing and understand the meaning of it, you almost have to communicate within the language of the people who live there. And that’s the difficultly. How do you communicate something within a completely different, unconventional language than the conventional language that most people normally use? That’s my struggle.

Luckily the article emphasizes a variety of things that can help me in this process. And interestingly enough, some of these things I’m already attempting to do (i.e. crafting one sentence with a few “anchors” that emphasize the narrative or theme of my life’s work) but I think it’s putting them all together into practice that will help me to make this next big step in my development and growth, “levelling up” in the process.

All said and done, I’m grateful that this fear has finally been brought to the surface and has become visible because now I can actually see it, admit it, and begin to work on it. In other words, if you can’t see what the problem is (even in some vague sense), you can’t really start walking around it and trying to understand it better.

BTW just a final thought to this, that’s kind of like the icing on the cake. If you read the concluding comments for my personality type, something that is raised by people is that they don’t have any interest in “learning a new language” which is a key characteristic of my personality type. This perfectly shows how so many people misunderstand the meaning of personality types because they are looking literally at something that can be communicating something metaphorically (like Joseph Campbell’s work). In this case, as my own life experience proves, “learning a new language” doesn’t literally mean learning the language of a foreign country but in this case it means learning a new language of meaning which is exactly what everyone will be going through as they transform themselves and their worldview for the future emerging rapidly before us right now.


“You’ve Come a Long Way,” WordPress

How WordPress today is achieving the vision of Storehouse back in 2014.

Kyle Pearce reviewing the Storehouse app.

While researching some things I had posted on Google+ some years back, I stumbled across a post I had made in 2014 about Storehouse which was a new publishing platform for “visual storytelling”.

What amazed me about reflecting back upon it (particularly the animated example under the title section of “Beautiful stories everywhere” on their website) is that the same thing can now be achieved within WordPress in terms of outputting a beautiful structure and layout to tell your story. This has largely been in part because of what Gutenberg has achieved in empowering the end user to finally be able to visually layout their own content fairly easily.

This got me thinking and wondering if many people even realize WordPress has this power now. If you don’t, it would probably be a pretty huge change and it would probably radically change your perspective of the platform in turn.

At the same time, it has made me realize how powerful and easy to use the platform is now, regardless of where I want it to be in terms of it evolving into my dream platform. In effect, I have to recognize that it is far more powerful than it ever was and becoming far more powerful than other platforms every day.

This is something I’m not really leveraging in its basic sense. In effect, helping people to simply become aware of it and to utilize in its basic current state, regardless of the fact that I want it to become so much more still (which will probably be achieved by the end of this year though with full site editing).

Anyways, all that said, one thing that is still lacking with WordPress is the mobile user experience, at least from my perspective in terms of using the WordPress iOS app. It is pretty much in its infancy still and cannot even compare to the simplicity, power, and ease of use that the Storehouse iOS app had six years ago in 2014. It would be nice if the WordPress iOS app development team took some lessons from the design and functionality of the Storehouse iOS app and implemented them into the WordPress iOS app.

It’s also interesting to see that in searching the Web to discover what happened to Storehouse, it appears that the platform shut down in 2016 because they couldn’t build a large enough user base. I remember at the time in 2014 thinking that if the Storehouse had translated their technology and created a WordPress app, even selling it for something like $20 (which would have been an outrageous price for an iOS app at the time), they probably could have easily garnered a huge client base for what they wanted to achieve but in a completely different context than they initially imagined.

In effect, they wanted to create their own medium, their own walled garden (similar to Medium at the time), yet many people weren’t interested in that. So if they had just pivoted at the time, using their existing technology in a different way than they originally imagined, they could have still been around today but in a different form. And interestingly enough, perhaps WordPress might have even bought the company and integrated their technology for their own WordPress iOS app sooner. Who knows? We’ll never know.

BTW it’s interesting to see that a competitor to Storehouse at the time in 2014 is still around. Exposure, created with the help of Derek Powazek (who also worked on HotWired, Blogger, & Technorati), looks like an extremely well integrated proprietary platform that simplifies the experience of web publishing for the end user, so they don’t have to go through the headaches of what you’d normally have to go through in setting up a WordPress site (i.e. themes, plugins, etc). Even their pricing seems very reasonable.


Understanding Yourself To Understand Others

How to evolve beyond our basic human fundamental needs and discover a whole new way of being.

Once you understand yourself, it’s very easy to understand everyone else. So easy because we’re actually not that different. We’re actually painfully quite ordinary. How our ordinariness and our trauma and our pain manifests is very different. But the root causes to why we act in the ways that we act often is insecurity. We want belonging. We want acceptance. Fundamental things to a human. If we are more understanding of at least ourselves, you know, it’s so hard to judge other people. 

Ayishat Akanbi, The Problem with Wokeness

BTW these basic “human fundamentals” she’s talking about mirror with what both Richard Barrett has been talking about for decades as The Values of Humanity and what Scott Barry Kaufman is now providing another perspective of (using a newer metaphor to help describe it to others, so they can relate to it more easily). What they’re talking about here are deficiency needs which were first revealed by Abraham Maslow. And if we can “rise above them“, we can finally have the opportunity to “open ourselves up” to our growth needs.

Maslow argued that all the needs can be grouped into two main classes of needs, which must be integrated for wholeness: deficiency and growth.

Deficiency needs, which Maslow referred to as “D-needs,” are motivated by a lack of satisfaction, whether it’s the lack of food, safety, affection, belonging, or self-esteem. The “D-realm” of existence colors all of our perceptions and distorts reality, making demands on a person’s whole being: “Feed me! Love me! Respect me!” The greater the deficiency of these needs, the more we distort reality to fit our expectations and treat others in accordance with their usefulness in helping us satisfy our most deficient needs. In the D-realm, we are also more likely to use a variety of defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from the pain of having such deficiency in our lives. Our defenses are quite “wise” in the sense that they can help us to avoid unbearable pain that can feel like too much to bear at the moment.

Nevertheless, Maslow argued that the growth needs—such as self-actualization and transcendence—have a very different sort of wisdom associated with them. Distinguishing between “defensive-wisdom” and “growth-wisdom,” Maslow argued that the Being-Realm of existence (or B-realm, for short) is like replacing a clouded lens with a clear one. Instead of being driven by fears, anxieties, suspicions, and the constant need to make demands on reality, one is more accepting and loving of oneself and others. Seeing reality more clearly, growth-wisdom is more about “What choices will lead me to greater integration and wholeness?” rather than “How can I defend myself so that I can feel safe and secure?”

Scott Barry Kaufman, Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization

Seeing Your Own Worth

Demanding other people to see your worth is the first clue that you don’t.

Ayishat Akanbi

This is so where I am at right now. I’ve actually journaled about this very thing earlier this week.

In effect, I think and believe that I will be at “home” with myself when I finally convince other people of my worth, helping them to see it. But I won’t. I will only be at “home” with myself when I see my own worth first.

Once you reach that state, when you are truly and fully at “home” with yourself, accepting yourself as you are in the present moment (rather who you wish you could be in the future), that’s when you no longer require others to see your worth because it no longer matters. You can finally just be who you uniquely are.

Also, it may sound weird that I know this, yet I can’t seem to achieve it. That’s the thing though that a lot of people can’t seem to grasp about what it takes to truly transform yourself. Knowing something isn’t enough. You truly have to live it, experience it, and feel it to fully understand it and grasp it. Thinking about it isn’t enough.