Our Current Context
We currently live amidst an incredible transition including two parallel paths that exist. One is the Industrial Revolution 4.0 moving toward robotics and the other is the human-centric leading movement. Amidst the humanistic movement, humans/Nature matter.
Patriarchies and hierarchies that we have used for millennia are cracking under their inability to provide the benefits we want. Our large organizations are supposed to provide stability, yet fail at an increasing rate. Black Swan author Nassim Taleb notes:
Our world is often described as VUCA. It increases our our anxiety as all the rules change without new ways to feel stable:
- Volatility: unpredictable financial markets/economy
- Uncertainty: do not know what will happen
- Complexity: no simple fixes
- Ambiguity: not sure what to do
What Do We Need?
We need new ways of feeling stable and new ways to solve problems. We are accustomed to external-reference — looking externally for validation or security. Yet, the wicked predicaments we face are grand and therefore, need a new perspective. The new perspective is internal-referencing. This means that we look internally for stability to then respond more effectively to external VUCA.
The Best Thing We Can Do
The most important thing we can do is change the way we see humans. Most of us do not think we are doing otherwise, yet we have been taught to mechanize humans and humanize machines.
Through our education system, we are focused on getting good grades and accolades without consideration of who we are, how we feel, what we care about or whether or not we would rather daydream. This is done through rewards and punishments, as well as criticisms, judgement and blame (CJB). Without being told so directly, we learn to think that humans have no inherent value. Rather, we are commodities that must differentiate ourselves through visible achievements. We feel compelled to prove our worth through what we produce and own. This is reinforced at home, school, university and work throughout our entire lives.
Over time, through repetition, the assumption that we humans are cogs in a wheel is embedded into our subconscious minds. That means that we no longer think about or even know about it. Rather, it is a habit that we never question.
When we are treated like replaceable cogs, we feel disrespected and in danger. We humans are social creatures who are wired to avoid uncertainty in order to survive. In our modern times, we equate survival with having a job or access to money. So, whenever we are criticized, judged or blamed (CJB), we worry that our survival is under threat and we react in defense. This leads to self-preservation at work, which takes our focus away from what the team or project needs. It is a reason why so many formerly successful companies have gone bankrupt – people were protecting their jobs more than thinking about the future.
The Result We Can Expect
Whenever we see people as humans with emotional needs and unlimited potential, things start to change. We feel better. As we feel better, we are more open to discussions, ideating and solving problems at hand. We use less CJB. We feel safe enough to tackle project work without the fear that someone will slap CJB our way, taking us back into fearing for our jobs.
New Skills Needed
Our human skills are underdeveloped because of being socialized to see ourselves as “not enough.” We need to strengthen the skills of self-respect, self-accountability and self-trust. These are dependent on seeing ourselves (and others) as humans with emotional needs and unlimited potential. This is all part of the human-centric leading movement. When we accept that we each has inherent value, we can focus on living our life’s purpose.
Specific examples of the skills we need to develop include how to:
- ensure high quality work without using CJB
- cut through emotional drama to understand exactly what is needed to progress
- transform CJB and use it to focus on the problem at hand
- respond instead of react
- affect change amidst chaos
- stay stable amidst instability or uncertainty
One Thing to Do Now
Start to see people as humans instead of titles.
Imagine your boss criticized your colleague’s idea in a meeting. You think “OMG, I expect more from her.” When you think that, you see her as a title – the “boss” who should behave respectfully. When she does not behave as expected, you are disappointed. Maybe even a bit angry or a little scared of what she thinks of you…
Instead, imagine that she is a human whose behavior reveals her unmet needs. With just that thought, you can see her in a different way. This reduces judgement and disappointment and allows you to see her for who she is. In doing so, you can accurately learn what you can expect from her and then respond to her without any emotional charge. This increases your ability to respond vs react. In responding and not reacting, you feel more in control and confident in any situation admits our VUCA world.
This is an ongoing dialogue. If you are interested in this topic, please sign up to join the movement and learn how to lead and affect change in today’s VUCA world with calm confidence.