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Dreams are extremely important. You can't do it unless you imagine it. ~ George Lucas

Future Shock ⇒ scrambled gps

The future belongs to the competent. It belongs to those who are very, very good at what they do. It does not belong to the well meaning.

Future Shock implies the unexpectedly of too much change in too short a time… it’s the feeling that nothing is permanent any more. Future SHOCK is the reaction to changes that happen so fast, that we cannot digest and adapt to it properly.

Future shock is the result of a “change machine gun” which confronts us and we have to constantly accommodate something new. For those of us who are unprepared, its effects, normally are devastating, derailing and even destructive; especially when cognitive dissonance and LAB-factors collide with each other in a Newton's Cradle effect. Relentlesslytill something gotta give!

It is difficult to accurately describe Future Shock, but it mainly implies a world spinning out of control due to runaway technology. Future shock isn't a prediction for the future, implying that chaos is inevitable… because a prepared society can always decide which direction to take, and use its technology wisely. PROVIDING that we do not stereotype change as something bad and that anything that deviates from the present norm is to be feared.

Our society is constantly in flux and has been ever since man first discover fire and invented the wheel.

Change is normal.

Change is something that happened since the universe was created or - as some people prefer to see it - materialize from nothing, due to some kind of cosmic accident. Change was, is and always will be a natural “part and parcel” of growth and development (e.g. baby → child → youth → adult → old age) which was happening for a kizillion years and will still happen for a kizillion more.

Then, why is it suddenly a such a major problem in modern times? Because… changes taking place in our modern society, are speeding up and we struggle to keep up with the tempo of change brought about by our technological advances.

Background

The construct “Future Shock” - originally coined by Alvin Toffler - implies a whole series of events that are describe in Toffler's published books, Future Shock (1970) and The Third Wave (1980) as follows…

In three short decades between now and the 21st century, millions of ordinary, psychologically normal people will face an abrupt collision with the future (Future Shock - 1970).

A powerful tide is surging across much of the world today, creating a new, often bizarre, environment in which to work, play, marry, raise children or retire. In this bewildering context… businessmen swim against highly erratic economic currents, politicians see their ratings bob widely up and down, universities, hospitals and other institutions battle desperately against inflation. Value systems splinter and crash, while the lifeboats of family, church and state are hurled madly about. The proverbial man in the street says the world “has gone mad”, while experts points to all trends leading towards catastrophe (The Third Wave - 1980).

We collide with the future and changes do take place, whether we realize, acknowledge and/or accept it or not.

More than three decades has passed since Toffler wrote his best-seller, “Future Shock” and more than two decades since his follow-up best-seller, “The Third Wave”. It is now the year 2018 and future shock, floating on the third wave, is already a scary reality that everyone of us lives with… and are confronted with each and every day. As individuals, our lives have become more and more complicated and our future an overwhelming pool of uncertainty and confusion.

As managers, we face increasing pressures and uncertainties. As employees, we are constantly confronted with change. As parents we find it increasingly difficult to assist and guide our children in these rapid changing times. As South Africans, we generally struggle with the notions of reform; with the idea that something bad must be replaced by something good; that old dispensations must give way to a new social order…. literally overnight.

Things are changing all around us, nationally as well as internationally. We are confronted with and must deal with today's stress and surprises, while we are planning for tomorrow. We have to deal with today's business demands effectively, even while we have to create a new and radically different kind of business for the future. We must sustain today's society even while reinventing it for tomorrow. It's a daunting task, BUT also one that we cannot postpone… because the future simply doesn't wait for any one of us.

The Challenge

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in what a person believe and his/her subsequent determination.

It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future and impossible to live in the past.

NOW (i.e. the Power of Now and Seize the Moment) is the only time we have to think and plan for what is lying ahead. The past taught us lessons and provides us with plenty of experiences and wisdom, the future is uncertain and possibly quite different from what we are used to… and the present, the present is all that we have to work with.

There is not a moment to waste.

Many of the “solutions” hinge on a new socio-political system and one thing stand out above the rest. All institutions, organizations, business and each South African - and each inhabitant of this planet for that matter - has an important responsibility to……

  • remain viable, create wealth and generate jobs and opportunities for personal growth,
  • to sensitize people to the need for change and
  • to help others to learn and master new behaviours (action models) and thus bring about productive change.

This is not an idealistic, politically altruistic inspired thought. When we as South Africans are to survive the future, with just a semblance of our cultural persona intact, we must somehow preserve our present cultural values that are dear to all of us. All people - especially leaders - have a vital role to play in the future of this country. Demands made on us will grow; we will be called to deliver more and more - under increasingly strenuous and mentally exhausting conditions - as each year passes. The question is…

  • Are we ready for the responsibility?
  • Can we do it?
  • What can we do?
  • How will we do it?
  • What resources will we need?
  • Which strategy will be the best and most productive to follow?
Do you know why a car's WIND SHIELD is so large & the rear view mirror is so small? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. So, look ahead and move on.

There are no easy solutions for South Africa. There is a number of socio-political and educational-training models presently available that we can call on, without any certainty nor guarantee that they will work under present circumstances and within our particular context. Thus, we can learn from the experiences in other countries, BUT in essence… we all have to pull together and collectively invent our own future!

This is a mind-boggling challenge for each and every South African. It demands imagination, courage, perseverance, self-control, loyalty, respect for diversities and it demands “something different” rather than “more of the same”. It demands that we rethink and re-plan each aspect of our lives and reinvent (renew) our life's from start to finish and top to bottom.

An overwhelming task…

Definitely, an impossible ideal, NO!

It implies that we have to return to the basics. The basics of strengthening the South African chain, by strengthening each individual link of that chain, through developing and initiating responsible and accountable Self-empowerment and/or Psyche Management drives.

Like a man on a high wire, we're all tempted to freeze in times of danger. We assume that when we stop we'll be safe. But in times of change, it is the worst thing to do. The only way in which a tightrope walker can maintain his/her balance - and survive - is by moving forward. He/she must progress. And so it is for every person, all companies, institutions, organizations and all nations. Turning back, in the face of change - as in the case of a tightrope walker - almost always has devastating consequences and not a very wise move to consider.

Typical Reaction

The essential components of Future Shock is….

  1. a future that is uncertain and
  2. a general struggle to cope with constant and rapid change.

We are all confronted with Future Shock, more often than we would care to admit. Normally we are of the opinion that we could handle almost everything… until one day that we unexpectedly discover the world has “suddenly” turned upside down, without us even being aware of all the changes taking place.


There are as many different reactions to future shock, as there are people experiencing it - however - there is a typical “unprepared-reaction” common to the majority of future shock confrontations, which can be illustrated as follows…

Reaction Description
An attentive, much dedicated and somewhat confused focus on a seemingly meaningless task at hand. There is a lack of real understanding, but an eager willingness to do as instructed (i.e. be responsible and do the right thing).
An unexpected and sudden confrontation, resulting in a momentous confused paralysis, trying to figure out what the %$@&@ is actually happening here or taking place.
PANIC sets in with lightning speed, accompanied by an inability to take any constructive or productive actions. The most logical action to take at this stage is making lots of noise, movement and frantic defensive behaviours (e.g. waving of hands in this case).
Must do something! First line of defense seem the most appropriate option… ATTACK! Thus, fight off the threat by trying to push it back into the screen.
When fighting seems to be totally ineffective, because the confrontation doesn't go away… FLIGHT seems to be the next best option to take.
Fleeing results in the seeking of immediate safety with what is a familiar and trusting source of security and comfort; or so we tend to think… because, quite often our source of comfort is responsible for this confrontation in the first place.
The eventual outcome of this incident… a nervous helpless, scared to death to deal with the incident and which requires plenty of support to digest and cope with the shock. Quite often the implication is ignored, because it really wasn't such a big deal, judge by its insignificant position on the stress barometer. (i.e. an excellent platform for launching the little jackal trap).


The above is a typical reaction from a person with an “unprepared mind”. When s/he is “suddenly” confronted with some form of unexpected future shock. Such a shock could be “coming” for weeks, months or even years and was probably “overlooked and ignored” due to his/her own naive stupidity. But, regardless the circumstances or context or reason, the result of future shock is always essentially the same… it can reduce anyone from a stronghold of confidence, to a pathetic heap of emotional ruble in a matter of seconds.

Tell Signs

Future shock impact on the human psyche!

Tell signs that the psyche of an individual is disturbed by future shock - varies greatly from individual to individual - but normally manifest as all kinds of depressions, anxiety, constant feeling of a looming doom, stress, aggression and rage. This isn't an uncommon modern day phenomenon, but sadly though, it increasingly are manifesting at a younger and younger age.

Unfortunately, these conditions nowadays are merely treated by addressing the symptoms of future shock, not dealing with real underlying and fundamental problem of an uncertain and confusing future.

Addressing Future Shock

To successfully (i.e. productively) address and deal with Future Shock entails much more than just the taking of the necessary actions or steps in order to reestablish certaintyAnd by implication our future security and predictability as well. in our life's. It demands a mind shift and a subsequent perspective change to realize that a future no longer are solely depended on a future-ME, but requires a future-WE to deal with an uncertain and confusing future. To really understand the context and point of view of this approach, would require plenty of research and reading lots of literature. However, a TED-talk delivered by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks - How we can face the future without fear, together - provide a “nutshell” synopsis of why replacing a future-Me with a future-WE is much better philosophy (i.e. GPS) to adopt…

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