If the technological, demographic and geopolitical tsunami that Abundance predicts and celebrates is truly coming, we’re all going to need to learn to ride giants–fast.
That, or risk getting buried by them.
The problem is, with the ever increasing rate of change, and the general overwhelm that most of us feel just keeping up with the mundane–who’s got time to train like Superman? Who can even imagine what it takes to stare one of those watery beasts in the maw and not flinch?
We feel more like the hapless surfer ambushed by an unusually large swell breaking much further out to sea than the ones he’s been trying to catch. The Cat Bird seat quickly devolves into the Impact Zone, and his efforts either to escape out the back or drop into the face both come to nothing.
That’s always been one of the biggest problems in keeping up with radical change of any stripe–it moves too fast, and breaks too unpredictably for all but the best-positioned, superhuman, or just plain lucky to catch.
And here’s where we’d do well to explore the analogue a little more thoroughly, as what’s happened in the real sport of surfing in the last few decades might offer us a few insights into the next few decades of what’s coming.
Since the early days of surfing’s modern incarnation, at the beginning of the last century, wave faces in excess of 40 feet had been the outer limits of possible. As author Susan Casey explains in The Wave, “Anything bigger is simply moving too fast; trying to catch a 60-foot wave by windmilling away on your stomach is like trying to catch the subway by crawling.”
To get around this problem, in the early 1990s Laird Hamilton, Buzzy Kerbox, Dave Kalama and a handful of other mavericks invented the sport of tow-in surfing. Instead of paddling into monster waves, these surfers, using boards with straps on them, would hitch a ride on a towline hung behind a Jet Ski. The vehicle could then whip the surfer into the wave with exacting precision and more than enough speed to keep him moving. Once off-limits waves were suddenly open for business.
(last two paragraphs excerpted from Steven’s new article Superhuman)
That’s what we’re trying to figure out right now–how do we keep up with the bigger, faster, altogether more powerful and scary waves of change we collectively face?
(and where’s our Jet-Ski ?)
Fortunately, the possibilities described in Abundance raise the bar with one hand, and offer us a lift with the other. At the same time that the pace and scope of novelty are blowing off the charts, our insights and access to the accelerants we need to help us keep pace are too.
Once we accept that our old methods of self-propulsion–specifically how we’ve learned and developed as leaders and people–don’t move us fast enough, we can start tinkering with better options, just like Hamilton and the Strapped crew did in their Maui garage.
One of the more promising hacks lies in accelerating our learning curve–if we can figure more stuff out faster, we at least stand a chance at staying on our feet.
And what’s one of the best ways to learn faster?
Stay Tuned for: From Altered States to Altered Traits