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.