Living in a VUCA world – Finding your place

Living in a VUCA world – Finding your place

 Small community life

In a small community people typically have a big overlap in their frames of reference. They have the same or similar stories to tell about the past, they share beliefs and values, preferred food and drink, customs, and the kinds of sport and recreational activities they enjoy. For most of them, it is not too difficult to find their place in the community and not to bother too much about what they are becoming or the troubles of the world ‘out there’.

In smaller communities people tend to care more and have more time for each other. The reality of the 21st century world however is that small communities are dying out. From 16% of the world population living in cities in the year 1900, we now expect to have 68% of the world population living in cities by the year 2050. Furthermore, it is projected that 75% of the world population will be internet (the virtual world we live in) users by 2022.

An interconnected world

To find your place in an interconnected world is very different to what it was if you grew up in a small intimate community. From being on the inside where it is up to those from the outside to understand you and adapt to your way of living, you now find yourself on the outside, having to learn and adapt to many things new and totally removed from the life you knew. You now, exposed to this new world of information and influences, are forced to think where you stand and rethink where you stood. Thinking where you stand sounds easier than it is when the world is moving under your feet at pace. A position you took yesterday with conviction could easily change with new information today.

Living in a VUCA world is demanding … as life always was and always will be. Our challenge is to understand how the nature of the demand changes from time to time in shorter cycles.

Finding your place: Own your life

Amidst all of the typical daily rush, the bombardment of information and social media activity, work pressures and daily chores, it is easy to feel lost, bewildered and thinly spread … at least at times if not all the time.  To find your place you have to own your life. Your life is not your employer’s or boss’s life. Your life is not your friends’ life, nor your family’s life, and not even your beloved partner’s life. Owning you life in this sense is not about being selfish, arrogant and egoistic. In truth, it can be scary and daring. It comes with an uneasy sense of responsibility for all your decisions and their direct consequences. It takes courage. But lending your life out to others can destroy you and certainly will prevent you from reaching your own unique potential and thus fulfilment.

Finding your place: Neither be bigger nor smaller than you are

Listening to others, what people tell you, what you read and watch, there could be many reasons why you would want to be bigger than you are. ‘Bigger’ meaning more talented, more wealthy, more influential, more powerful, brighter, slimmer, stronger, prettier, etc. Whether we want to see or hear it or not, ‘the world’ is ceaselessly telling us and showing us the best of the best that is out there, the stars of the world earning recognition and admiration. The truth is, as long as we are still comparing ourselves to others, we can’t find our place and we struggle to be grounded.

As scary, unsafe, intimidating and harsh as the world can be, there could be many reasons why you would rather settle for the smaller version of yourself. ‘Smaller’ meaning self-diminishing, safer, lower goals, lower aspirations, self-doubting, giving up, hiding, standing back, stop dreaming, following the crowd, etc. If so, it is tragic. From time to time you need to cut out the noise, hype and unrealistic expectations that media creates. You need to reflect on the real potential in yourself and what you own yourself to make the best of life and the opportunities you have.

As we often remind one another, we only live once. Let us then not be intimidated or overwhelmed by the VUCA world. Let us own up and find our own place, neither wanting to be bigger nor smaller than who we are.

Meaningful living : Wonder

Life has a way of squeezing out the sense of wonder we had as children. Can you still remember how you became immersed in the storybooks you read – those stories that you could read over and over again because they were so real to you? Or lying on a blanket in the still of the night and watching the stars in awe, without thinking much? The belief that life is good, and that good people and good things triumph over bad people and bad things was natural then. As we age, harsh realities and disillusionment, can easily lead to apathy and cynicism.  Apathy and cynicism threatens to smother the sense of wonder in us completely – and with it the belief in, and hope for pure truth, everlasting good, and meaning. Read More

Meaningful living : Happiness and gratitude

Imagine a person who never expresses gratitude. You most probably will be thinking of someone who either sees life similar to a board game where everything is determined by the roll of the dice, or someone who believes that whatever good there is in his life is entirely the result of his own intellect and efforts. If we see life as coincidence or something that we somehow deserve and are entitled to, we will have difficulty in understanding gratitude and its place in our lives. Imagine a world with only self-absorbed, arrogant and cynical people. Can it be a world of true joy, abundance, goodwill and meaning? Read More

Meaningful living and overcoming selfishness

How empty would our lives be without love, receiving it and giving it?

‘Love’ is a soft word – too soft for many. They feel, ‘if we allow softness in our lives we will be exposed and left behind’. “Soft” is weak, and so is love’, according to them. Love means to be gentle, kind, compassionate and forgiving, whereas success requires being forceful, domineering and uncompromising. Yet, behind the facade of self-sufficiency and bravado, those who are uncomfortable with the concept also dearly want to be loved like everybody else. Their viewpoint is, however, understandable. The world is a scary place so that self-protection for survival comes naturally. Was it not for the love of our parents, caretakers or others that reached out to us, we would not have known anything but the need to protect ourselves from the real or perceived dangers of life.  Read More

Meaningful living and the power of faith

Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]
    There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.
What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
but nothing changes— it’s business as usual for
old planet earth

The good news for the Quester in Ecclesiastes is that he presents meaningful knowledge. What he says is a true and honest reflection of life. It resonates with us. It carries weight, and, as such, it points to something important. The fact that we can think and can express our observations and experiences of meaninglessness in a meaningful way suggests the possibility of spiritual sight. If human beings were absolutely devoid of meaning, they would not be conscious of meaninglessness. In some way, and for some reason, we can compare what we see and experience with something that is different, an image of perfect truth and meaning. Our inner being has knowledge of a homeland to which we want to return to.  Read More

Meaningful living and the power of vision

Meaningful living is not a fixed or static state. It is a journey to a meaningful destination. We  have clearly not arrived at any state of perfection. We, as well as everything around us, are in constant change. And the question is: change to what? As we make our choices in response to ever-changing situations, our lives evolve. Are we in the process slipping further into meaninglessness or are we progressing towards more meaning?

Meaninful living is to strive for meaning. Striving for meaning requires nothing less than ceaseless work on oneself and refining of one’s personal vision.

Read More

Giving recognition

As fulfilling, exciting and creative as work sometimes can be, it can also make us intense, stressed, deeply fearful and self-absorbed. This would typically happen when we see everything from the perspective of competition for scarce resources and opportunities. We want desperately to be recognised but we don’t recognise others. We want praise but don’t praise others. Read More

Coping or growing?

Are you coping and managing or growing and leading? If you ask me, after sixty odd years in this life, I concur with Scott Peck (The road less travelled) that life is difficult. Every now and then we experience turbulence, curve balls or wrong ‘uns, major disappointments, high expectations, stressful situations, fear, anxiety, loneliness and confusion … if not devastating tragedies. This being so, the question is how we respond to these experiences. In essence there are three ways of responding: we succumb and give up hope; we find a way to cope; we grow. Read More