The Future is Balancing on Unstable Surfaces (BOUS)?

When people say, I used to – fill in the blank, for example I used to be able to eat garlic, but I can’t any more, I wonder why that is. I say look at your feet. Your feet have changed and so have your insides, but, you can’t see it. Yet, that’s our metric, some bygone historical reference. When I was 3 years old, I had no worries about finances, retirement, really nothing. That worked in that period of time, but that does not mean the answer for a stress free life it to move back to 518 Chesterfield Road. A return to yesteryear is not the answer for a goal of financial security.

Muggsy Bogues

The goal needs to be an achievable goal. At 5’ 6” any one can state a goal of playing in the NBA, but achievable? Nah. (Disclaimer – At 5’ 3” Muggsy Bogues, with a 14 year career proves it is possible.  He is he shortest player ever, meaning not probable.) The odds of actually making it to the professional level in any sport is  1% of the top 1%. Therefore, rationally,  has to be thoughts of a future without sports and a back up plan. The irony is, once we reach a certain age there seems to be some expectation of a status quo, a comfort level that is expected. Like there is some formula, work jobs, save money, and retire. 

I listened to an interview with Lenwood Ross this week1. He said about the future of work and what we value “… we will have persistent uncertainty and instability.” That resonated. After all, this blog is BOUS – Balancing on Unstable Surfaces; how do we navigate in an environment that constantly changes. But, how often do we actually check in with what’s working  and what’s not? My theme for yoga classes this month has been parallel parking. Sometimes you know to drive by the space, it’s not going to happen. At other times, it seems like it might work, but proves difficult, so you drive on. Then there is the sweet spot, where it just works. With parking, it’s obvious; life, maybe not so much. Do we wrongly associate discomfort with not working?

Video Conferencing made it possible to virtually meet. While it still may have been preferable for in person, video made it possible to have global teams, remote offices and not have people feel isolated. This gave way to work from home. Many companies realized work from home can reduce the cost of real estate and found a nice balance with this option. COVID lockdown becomes a game changer as companies and employees navigated this new world. The number of full time employees with remote work jumped to 43% in the US. Wow, there are others ways to structure work. The lockdown forced a change, but did it force a reconciliation on how we work?

Post lockdown, why are companies uncomfortable with people not working in the office and have strategies and directives to get people back into the building? Should the question be why do we need people in the  office, what goal do we want to achieve and how do we get there? Is the goal really to get back to the perceived status quo? Consider this, can a workforce comfortable with the idea of what is, and as a desire to be certain and stable, be innovative? No.

Remember personal checks and accounts. Everyone wrote checks, you could get personalized checks with all sorts of images. When debit cards and ATM’s became popular, the printers of checks lost  business. Their answer, make check writing cool, give it a retro vibe. Yes, that failed. Certainty and stability? Not going to work. Remember the phone booth. Same thing, phone manufacturers wanted to make phone booths cool in response to mobile phone that made them obsolete. There was a time when any airport had a bank of phones, now, airports have a bank of personal device chargers. Things come along and disrupt markets. So,  it makes sense to prepare for instability and uncertainty.

Resilience! For companies, organizations and people, resilience is the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. As you know, some companies are resilient, others, not so much. What about us? As adults how do we become/prepare for resilience? Choice. Your achievements will in part depend on your desire to be comfortable and safe. Funny, in childhood I thought I’d reach a point and then it’s kind of like everything falls in place and there are no more things to be nervous about and I’ll never be scared about anything. How wrong. It’s a constant process of try, fail, adjust.

Something new is scary, but gets easier after a few times. I taught a yoga master class yesterday. I remember the first time 5 years ago taking the subway to the studio and getting lost. My first time teaching a yoga class (I practiced 5 times.) All those nerves and fears are mostly gone now. A subtle reminder of how life looks very different now from 5 years ago. I continue to build  resilience. I get to choose and one day I’ll seek comfort and familiar.  But for now, time to find that point of balance in the midst of changes. This week, consider comfort and safety and your definition of resilience because the future will be nothing like it is now.

1 Thanks Andrea.


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