Right now, we’re living in a time of rising disruption. Technology, cultural philosophy – even the natural environment is on the move.
Change brings uncertainty, and while a little uncertainty can be exhilarating, when it starts to affect some of the core parts of our life and our work, we can quickly become overwhelmed, trapped in a state of flux.
Since the 1980s, research findings have shown a steady, and accelerating pace of people experiencing stress, anxiety, and burnout. This not only leads to less productive businesses but unfulfilled lives. Burnout, for those unfortunate enough to experience it, is not just about being tired. That’s how it is commonly thrown around in conversations today, but true burnout rests on three core pillars. Emotional exhaustion is certainly one, but it also involves a rise in cynicism and detachment – or depersonalisation.
Listen, the level of disruption right now is high. But, I also have a warning. When we look at the trends and megatrends around us, and couple this with our newfound pace of change that we can bring about with the aid of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics – the rising level of disruption is just getting started. That’s why I created the PPM method, a simple, effective framework that builds resiliency, allows you to cut through the noise, avoid burnout, and live a fulfilled life.
In our modern society, we have championed outcomes, productivity, efficiency over nearly everything else. This is not exactly wrong. But it is a little like an entrepreneur setting up in business with the only goal of making money.
Sure, money can do a lot of good. It can help us live a better life, enrich the lives of others around us. But if the only motivation for a business is money, then it tends to seek fads. It tends to sacrifice longevity over short-term results. The more extreme the focus on money, the more towards the spectrum of Ponzi schemes, fraud, and sham the business becomes.
The same is true for us and our management of ourselves and others. If all we care about are outcomes, meeting KPIs, and how many hours were put in, then we too sacrifice longevity for short-term results. In the long run, we end up missing out on living our lives, chasing pipe dreams, seeking short-term pleasures, and at some point standing back and wondering where on earth we went so wrong.
This subtle condition of businesses to focus on outcomes, rather than the quality of input, and in turn for it to become a social norm, started hundreds of years ago. The real shift happened at the very start of the Industrial Revolution.
When society moved from being comprised of craftspeople and artisans, who would have been paid not only for the finished goods but also for the quality of work and craftsmanship, to a model that paid for the number of hours put in. This is subtle. But then, as we uncover in the PPM method, many of the narratives and beliefs that we run and operate our lives on are.
They are a collection of programs we were given by our teachers, our peers, our parents. Most of these were not consciously deliberated over – what is good, what is useful – but they in turn passed on their own programs to us quite unknowingly. When we simply run with these without awareness, we can quickly become unstuck. This is particularly true in a situation of uncertainty.
In the book Decoding Change – which helps people see the changes going on around them – I talk about seeing the world in layers. This concept came from the work of Stuart Brand, who suggested that there were layers that updated faster than others. I would add to this, by suggesting that the slower the natural updating speed of a layer, the more important, more disruptive it is when it finally moves. The point here is that over the past few hundred years all we have had to contend with is an updating of the faster-paced layers – product, business, and infrastructure. The slower layers have simply been updating in response to the changes seen in the higher layers.
So, what are these slower-moving, more important, lower layers?
Regulation, cultural philosophy, and the natural environment.
Today, we stand on the edge of a paradigm-shifting point in human history, where change and trends are not just originating in the higher, faster-paced layers, but also in the slower-paced, higher-magnitude layers.
Trends and megatrends today can be seen originating in all three: regulation, cultural philosophy, and the natural environment. This is why I suggest that, unlike the phrasing and terminology coming from the likes of the World Economic Forum, we are not on the edge of simply the next industrial revolution – Industrial Revolution 4.0, as it’s sometimes termed. Rather, we are on the edge of a change in human history that is of a similar – or perhaps bigger magnitude – to the shift that occurred some 10,000 years ago when we moved from being nomadic hunter-gatherers to a settled agrarian society.
This time around, however, we’re likely to see the shift play out over a few decades, rather than a few centuries. In this environment, a truly uncertain, disruptive – unnerving – environment, decision-making becomes harder.
As anxiety, stress, and burnout become more prevalent, we lose touch with our inner selves, seeking more instant gratification and losing touch with two vitally important things: our calm inner intelligence and our playfulness.
This is where the PPM Method comes in. It aims not only to help individuals, teams, and organizations navigate disruptive environments but ultimately serves a far bigger goal of helping people take back control of their lives and stop being flung around by the chaos and noise that surrounds us and saps our attention and energy.
It is ultimately about making the investment to become the very best version of you: a fulfilled, active, playful, creative you.