The Year Of Big Choices. What Future Do You Want?

Jan 10 2022

Give yourself a huge hug; we've made it through a really unsettling year!

After a scary 2020, who knew we’d almost immediately face a shocking government insurrection, continuous devastating global weather events that seem to spare no one, an unfathomable supply chain crunch and US state laws that are moving us dangerously backwards. It’s difficult sometimes to remember we also witnessed the relief of the fastest-ever development of a vaccine, celebrated the breaking of the White House-adjacent glass ceiling, woke up to Facebook’s toxic business model/decision making, remembered how much travel enriches our lives and cheered as Scotland put an end to “period poverty” by making all tampons and pads free. Representing both pros + cons has been the startling “great reshuffle”, as we rethink where we work and the kinds of labor we want to do at all. Whether the news is shocking or encouraging, it is tiring to take each next step when the ground under our feet keeps shifting.

So what will this new year bring?

While I have become even more convinced it is possible to have an extraordinary future in which we use technology to vastly improve our collective quality of life, I do have days when I question our will to unlearn bad habits, level-up the playing field and see the big upsides of sharing power vs owning it. A while ago I stumbled onto this quote on Twitter that, surprisingly, made me feel better:

“We are being called to address increasingly complex problems with increasingly dire consequences, while recognizing that the support systems we have relied on for decades are crumbling.”

First, it gave shape to what I was feeling (which always helps). It also reminded me that all the systems we see fracturing are constructs vs immutable truths... which means all are up for redesign! And for me that means there is a lot to be very excited about. Are we willing to change the way we look at opportunity, success and each other? This is a year of big choices.

Healthier, more affordable food. Safe, dignified housing for everyone. More accessible medical diagnosis and care. Radical breakthroughs in energy production, mental health therapies, money flow and our concepts of meaningful work. More compassionate solutions to homelessness. Better care of youth. Space hotels! And so. much. more are all right at our fingertips. To get there, however, requires we radically rethink the ways we incentivize innovation, how we assess and reward success, what we consider “risky”, and what it will take to undo centuries of domination/winner-takes-all thinking and shift to a global appreciation for regenerative design and an understanding that taking much better care of each other and our earth = long term prosperity.

We are at (what will be historically) an important moment of inflection and critical decision making as we build out the metaverse, the business models accelerating AI advances, the rules for facial recognition usage and guardrails for cryptocurrency exchange. We are literally laying the foundation for life generations into the future. So in a moment of such polarization – both in the US and around the world – how will we make safe, long-term decisions we can all look back at decades from now and feel proud of? How can we wisely build the prototypes for solutions we can’t even imagine will emerge?

For me, the answer is to become even more curious and to keep taking brave steps forward. I am surrounded by amazing people - visionary, caring leaders and creators - who are showing us what is possible when we wonder about (vs instinctively resist) new information and experiences, embrace the wisdoms embedded in natural systems, get clear in our own hearts about what matters most, and cultivate the relationships and communities that hold us all with empathy and respect.

With this kind of support and orientation, we can make peace with the chaos (it's not going to stop any time soon), step into the openings it creates and wrap our arms and hearts around the unique solutions and opportunities calling to each of us.

I wish you a beautiful, energizing and good new year!

xo, Nancy