You may feel blessed. You
may feel cursed. However you feel about it, those of us living in the 1990's
are being forced to adapt to an unprecedented acceleration in the speed of change.
In previous, less complicated
societies, changes occurred very slowly, over generations. It wasn't long ago
that the world of the child was not significantly different from the world of
the parents and grandparents. Today, even the so-called experts on the future
don't even know what the world will look like ten years from now.
Everyone is talking about
managing change, as if it could be managed. There is an assumption that the
people who are introducing the new technologies and systems know what they are
doing and that everything will soon settle down after the next re-engineering
or restructuring. This is a serious misreading of what is happening in society
We must anticipate that
rapid accelerating change is going to be an on-going and inescapable feature
of our lives, one of the very few certainties in a world characterized by monumental
To understand the significance
of the dramatic speed-up of change in our time, it is extremely important for
you to understand the concept of exponential growth.
The nature of the exponential
growth pattern is characterized by very insignificant growth at the front end
and the dramatic growth towards the end of the cycle. If you started with one
penny at the first of the month and had the pennies grow exponentially over
the next thirty days, it would start slowly, one penny, two pennies, four, eight,
sixteen ... By the tenth day you would only have $5.12. By the twentieth day
it would reach approximately $5000. But by day thirty, the sum of pennies will
have swollen to the awesome sum of $5.3 million.
If you plotted this on a
graph, it would be represented by a slow increase radically transforming into
a steeply rising curve as the numbers suddenly begin to grow astronomically
large during the last few days.
Over many tens of thousands
of millennia, change always was insignificant and slow. It was only about three
hundred years ago that change began to speed up. In this century, it began to
steeply accelerate. My grandmother, for instance, was born ten years before
the Wright brothers flew their first airplane and she passed away ten years
after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The nature of the change that is happening
today is making the changes of my grandmother's day appear snail-paced in comparison.
Apparently, we have already
gone through more change in past ten years than all the changes that have occurred
in all of history, from the beginning of time until ten years ago. However,
unless you understand the way in which the very large numbers are generated
in exponential growth curves, this statement may appear to be just puff or overstatement.
It is not.
This is the "future shock"
which Alvin Toffler warned us about twenty-five years ago. It's here now and
not about to subside. In fact, well-informed sources suggest that the world
in 2005 may be more different from today than today is different from 1895.
Never before have people been asked to adapt so rapidly. Ours is the unique
period in which change has changed. It is the time of hyperchange.
Are you ready or able to
deal with life in the really fast lane of the 21st century? Few of us are. Our
industrial age schools and workplaces have barely prepared us for the scale
of change that our grandparents knew. They haven't even recognized, let alone
prepared us to deal with hyper change.
A practical strategy exists
to strengthen your resilience to this new kind of change. It is to allow your
body, mind and emotions to properly rest and recuperate on a regular basis -
to effectively release your stress. If this type of deep healing relaxation
does not occur, breakdowns will. If you doubt this, look at the medical statistics.
Future shock is one of the
major causes of stress in the '90s, and informed people today understand that
stress is the major killer and crippler of our era. If you wish to prevent your
employees from just becoming additional and costly stress statistics, you would
be wise to enable them to learn how to properly and efficiently rejuvenate and
replenish themselves from the challenge of constant readjustment. This kind
of training is not a luxury anymore. It's a corporate survival skill.