This year’s recent Conversation Among Masters conference in New Orleans was no exception. Surrounded by more than 100 seasoned executive coaches, we embarked on discussions about where the world is headed over the next few years and what the world needs from us. I found this conversation to be especially poignant, centered as it was, in the heart of the French Quarter.
I had not visited New Orleans before. I was stunned and enthralled by the radical juxtaposition of wealth and poverty, joy and sorrow, and the rich blends of cultures, food, music, and history. All this in the sweltering heat! It was quite a background in which to hold deep conversations and experience transformational shifts in consciousness.
Between futurist David Houle, thought leader Julio Olalla, wellness and healthcare leader Margaret Moore, and pioneer coach Cheryl Richardson, we heard different perspectives on how to help others on their journey to make the impact they want in the world. A few highlights of their predictions particularly struck me as interesting to you, our reader:
“The speed of change has become environmental. The next 20 years, the second half of the Shift Age, will be more transformative than any 50-year period in human history.” –David Houle
David Houle told us that the young will lead us into the future. The new uprising of children into politics is not business as usual; rather it signifies the coming global tide change of the younger generations becoming the dominant force in politics and policy by 2024. Our work as professionals – and as citizens – is to manage through ambiguity and to become comfortable with the fact that technological advancements have now officially outpaced the human mind’s capacity to learn. We need to stop being afraid of technological advances, and instead find ways to shape technology’s trajectory for good.
David talked about the “Shift Age,” an age he declares we entered into about eight years ago and will last until about 2030. During that time, many careers will be outmoded due to artificial intelligence. New jobs will be created to “manage the machines” and also to do the higher-level work of bringing empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence into the workplace. In his view, humanity will come into a new era of having more leisure time and the desire to spend that time making social impact. Listen to him talk more about the Shift Age here.
I asked another speaker, Ben Croft, head of WBECS, about how best to prepare our children for the coming economic and technological changes. He said, “Make sure that by the age of 15 they are studying technology and coding in some form, getting savvy about that world.”
Julio Olalla shared that we need to embody empathy, compassion, and love to our fellow man more than ever before, because we are connected and what happens to one happens to all. He talked about how during the time of Copernicus in the 1500s, we as a human species became focused on investing in what could be proven, while shunning the inner experience of life. As a result, we came to devalue our inner knowing, and deprioritized compassion and love for self and others. This focus, over time, led us to many advances in science and technology, AND it has brought us to a unique moment in history when we must swing the pendulum back to a place where we hold both pieces – that which can be proven, and that which cannot – as equally important. This shift, he states, is imperative for the future of humanity.
I asked Julio how to prepare our children to be resourceful, resilient human beings in these complex times. It is common knowledge that the seeds of being are cemented in childhood, so I wanted to know, as the parent of two young children, how best to shepherd them through this time. His response was, “Play with them. Spend time with them…and don’t let them witness something extremely traumatic.”
We must cultivate, honor, connect with, and support the development of our own and other’s ability to marry the external world with the internal experience of that world. We must see both as integral to the success of humankind.
I left with a profound sense of commitment to the practices that bring me out of the achiever energy of doing and into the grounding practices of being: my meditation practice, rest, and inhabiting my physical and spiritual body. My intention is that by being connected to myself, I can connect to the being part of others and help them foster that connection in their own lives. That in turn allows us to see how we are connected one to each other, something the world needs from us now.
There are many ways to connect to the being place inside yourself and to foster that sense of connectedness in others. I encourage you to find and cultivate a regular practice of your own ways of doing this.
Our world, our future, and our sense of a life well-lived depend on it.