Five big and brave suggestions on how you and your family can take advantage of a potential economic downturn. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
At a conference of real estate and housing professionals last September, I said that the US would be in recession in about 18 months. No self-respecting futurist would usually throw out time frames like that, but I was caught in the moment and wanted to be clear. Someone asked me what I based my prediction on, and I gave them my top three reasons:
More accurately, poor leadership. Recessions aren't natural occurrences like the changing seasons from summer to fall. They occur because we have made the poor leadership decision of thinking that the boom/bust cycle is the best that we can do as a society...
Boom. Bust. Boom. Bust. Boom. Bust. Boom. Bust. Boom. Bust.....
In a future article, I'll go into why that fallacy is keeping us from profound innovation, creativity and breakthrough discoveries. But today, I'm going to share five things that are trending that can make the coming economic time a window of opportunity. This is an extremely important conversation because most of you are carrying really heavy debt loads and will be under some pressure....
You're going to hear the usual suspects tell you to pay down debt, spend only on the essentials and wait this one out, but the truth is, many people still haven't recovered from the last one....
So, yeah, do those things as recommended by the "experts", but why not also go big and brave? Here are five big and brave things you could do right now to get in front of something that might happen....
1. Join a food cooperative. There are many organic food cooperatives all over the place that are looking to get their product to people. These cooperatives can help in your overall food budget. Your cooperative can be as simple as pairing up with other backyard farmers and doing trade. Even more, it could be an effective hedge against food price challenges as climate crisis disrupts world food supply chains.
2. Get rid of your vehicle. For the first time since the automobile age emerged, the number of registered drivers are going down. Why? Because ride sharing and the coming autonomous automobiles are making it smarter and cheaper to get around. without owning a car. This becomes even more important as more people flock to urban areas where space and parking are limited at best. It's just an expense you actually could get by without. You can thank the evolution of AI for this option.
3. Retire overseas. If you're at that age where you're living on a limited pension and you're out of the workforce, consider other countries where you can live on the cheap and like a king.
4. Join a prayer/mindfulness/meditation group. The last thing you need is unchecked anxiety to creep into your household at a time of challenges. There's no substitute for taking care of your spirit in the company of others in tough times. Developing friendships, getting great ideas and sharing suggestions can also come from your time with these people. Don't go into a cave. Reach out, instead.
5. Create partnerships with your rivals. During a recession, people still need services....they just need them cheaper. Creating partnerships with colleagues means you can team up with them to service more people but at a cheaper rate. Sure, it's not the same as when you would do it by yourself, but having partners means you can bring more services to the table and, in theory, get more gigs.
Don't shrink...think! This is the time to be brave and bold in a world going through massive transition.
I'm going to expand on the work of writer Don Miguel Ruiz who originally wrote "The Four Agreements". His four agreements are:
I'd like to update those agreements to meet the extraordinary time of change we are in right now. In a Pentagon report released a few years ago, it said "the next few years will decide the next 100". I agree. Climate crisis, social disruption, technological advancement have all converged at this moment in time. Here are the new agreements for times like these.
1. Be impeccable with truth. Truth is that cocktail that combines wisdom, data, facts, empathy and mother wit. It's shaken, not stirred. It's not absolute, but it does require absolute and rigorous work by you, it's champion. In my work as an analyst and Futurist, I have learned that the single greatest challenge I face in sharing information is the preponderance of people who rely on scant information then take a deep dive into the pool of confirmation bias. All of us do it, but social media has made that indulgence more accessible to more people -- especially to the ignorant. Truth is not only our greatest ally in navigating new environments, but it should be cherished as our greatest treasure. It's pursuit will save us in the end. Ongoing lies and deception over an extended period of time will collapse any relationship, community or society. Truth is not a static position, but a way of life.
2. Take everything personally. We live in a time where you are encouraged to see yourself separate from the events that your senses are detecting. You are told you didn't see what you just saw, so you don't have to worry about it. This detachment from the environment allows us to treat the planet, nature, animals , and other human beings with a cool detachment and indifference. Not taking things personally has led to an extinction level event called climate crisis. Taking everything personally means that you now realize all of your actions and your words matter and have an effect.
3. Assume it's up to you and others like you. "Someone else will do something about it". Famous last words for a country or a nation watching the slow drip of diminishing voter participation, distraction via our tech tools and indifference to the sufferings of other human beings. Assuming that creating a transformed world is up to you and others like you not only makes you personally responsible, but it gives you a voice and a stake in the world you live in. The future is determined by those bold enough to be present right now. Fortune favors the bold.
4. Go above and beyond "your best". Often when I hear people talk about their best, they speak of it in the context of what they know or what is normal or expected inside of convention. But what if we don't know what our best is because our imagination is on "lockdown" and we're too tied to what we've done in the past? Maybe we don't really know what our best is because we've never ventured out further than the normal. I often say that this is not a time for us to "think outside the box". This is a time to recognize there is no box. We are no longer tethered to the old ideas and are free to create new ones. I would submit that going above and beyond all that you know will take you to an open field where your best is still yet to be discovered.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary agreements. I submit mine.
Identicide. The reason behind the madness in our society and how climate crisis could help create something better. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
Some of you are going to take issue with what I'm about to say. My early apologies, but I hope you'll take the time to think this one through. I'm riffing off the work of Professor Monica Duffy Toft at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. I'm leveraging her work because it matches my own. She asks the premier question of our time: The white male Christian identity the US has of itself is running into the reality of a diverse, feminine, multi-cultural population. Many Futurists like myself saw this coming years ago, but became worried that we, as a country, have not developed tools to navigate this level of change.
What happens to a country when its core national identity — its preferred image of itself in terms of race or religion — doesn’t match its demographic reality?
This life threatening moment to an established identity is called "identicide". Deep and abiding racism, misogyny, income inequality and racial violence can all be traced back to the idea of some people holding on to a certain cultural and racial identity (even if they are not part of that racial identity) in the face of a different rising reality. The reason it is bubbling up now is pure demographics. In the US, the widest range of cultural groups from around the world are not coming.....they are already here. Combine income inequality with our penchant to "other" ethnic groups that aren't like us and you have a toxic brew. We are not unique in this challenge. History is littered with destructive, messy cautionary tales when a country doesn't respond well to demographic change.
This may look like we're staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, but let me provide another vision from a Futurist's perspective. The only emotion that is stronger than fear is hope. In a society that encourages taking sides, I'd like to encourage us to take a stand. When there is a common challenge or "foe", people tend to lose their "us and them" baggage, roll up their sleeves and go to work. This shared or common work has the tendency to build alliances, common goals and often, a new national identity.
I see climate crisis as that opportunity.
Yes, climate crisis threatens our very existence. Yes, it has and will devastate our planet. But history has also shown that humans can rally under real and immediate pressure. Let me clarify myself even further. I would never wish the challenges of climate crisis on anyone. However, if we look at it for what it is, an opportunity, it can become more than our worst nightmare. This is not just about going to another workshop or conference. There is a mistaken belief that simply feeling better about a crisis through dialogue alone resolves it (ie: seminars, conferences, protests, rallies, etc). The technosphere that keeps the root problems on automatic pilot is never considered. However, working together on a common challenge increases the odds of identifying those root causes and dramatically increases the odds of finding solutions to them. This is what I call, re-imagining the future.
For several years, I taught a leadership summer course at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban and Pietermariztburg, South Africa. It was there I learned about the ancient African concept of Ubuntu -- the idea that sharing success as well as challenges was a much more efficient and effective way to navigate crises of scale. This tool of Ubuntu suggests that establishing a shared identity has the power to galvanize resources, people and vision at a time when you need all shoulders at the wheel. We have untapped abundance, prosperity and possibilities in this potential.
As with all great teams, it takes amazing coaches, trainers and support personnel to build this new way forward in the face of a stunning number of existential threats. We may not survive as a nation. We may not survive as a planet. But climate crisis is the rallying point that gives us a fighting chance to re-imagine a new way to live and jettison some of the baggage that got us to this moment of crisis in the first place. That also may mean letting go of a national identity myth. Make no mistake....people are deeply married to their victimhood and are quick to make enemies of the "other".....real or perceived. But to not give ourselves that shot at pushing the reset button and....perhaps....saving the day through a more powerful collective identity, would truly be a crime against humanity. It's hard, complicated, sometimes nasty work. But for once in our human existence, let's go above and beyond all that we know, and, as Psychologist Dr. Peggy Mitchell Clark would say "let's do something different for a change".
Chet W. Sisk is an author and one of the world's leading Social Futurists. He is also expert on the current world paradigm shift. Find out more about him and the LEAD Global Team at www.leadtheshift.com or you can write him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org