Change happens

People talk of ‘change’, but what does it really mean? In the past, the knowledge and experience of ‘the old’ was the best instruction for ‘the young’. Today we live with a new set of realities – we are like immigrants into a new time, unable to take our cues from yesterday’s lessons.

Which is why people are starting to tear apart the walls of our thinking and our understanding. People lack certainty as they become more aware that there is no right way to live and think. The monolithic views of the past are crumbling as more different viewpoints of the world are understood and embraced. There is challenging of some of our fundamental ideas, like kids, marriage, jobs, medicine, spirituality, and pleasure.

In business, and from the Business Council of Australia down, there is talk of the “triple bottom line” where the economic, social and environmental results must all balance. There is talk of social contracts, social coalitions and social cohesion. There is talk of including new metrics such as “social performance” to assess the net worth of a company. “Social capital” is the buzzword among the free marketers recognising the limits of capitalism.

People are eager to know where their products are coming from. Are they genetically modified? Are they environmentally benign? Are they made by child labour in developing countries?

It is against this backdrop that the way people define and see themselves has changed. Australian people [and perhaps this is true of all people] have entered a period of retreat from the big agenda – a period where people are more concerned about close, personal, immediate issues, not national issues.

The shift is from being outer-directed to inner-directed. From people who’s main concern is what others think of them, to people who look inside of their own selves and ‘do their own thing’.

It’s a shift towards cultural ideas that are about transforming ourselves from within, like learning to cook, or feel confident, or be calm. Angus & Robertson estimate a growth of 500% in self help books over the past decade.

It’s a shift towards experiences that are more intense and personal. New found freedoms are leading people to general informality of lifestyles, and a regression to play at all ages.

The fundamental ‘ethic’ that people are striving for is a view of life and the world that is essentially humanitarian – not economically rational. It is a view that says the future is about spirituality, not economic growth and technology.

It is an attitude that says “I will live and be in this world with all the capabilities I have, not just a part of myself”. It is a desire to close the ever-widening gap between “how I want my life to be” and “how my life really is”.

It is a belief that says we need to centre on our heart – not our head – and act through it. It is an open recognition that we are ALL seeking love and self-worth.

At the end of the day it’s about people wanting to feel good about themselves, their lives, and their world. And that is gold 🙂


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