“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
― Alan Wilson Watts
2020 isn’t playing around. It feels like we’re being initiated into something new. An uncomfortable sense of change hangs in the air. If 2020 is any indication, this next decade promises to be nothing like the last, or unlike anything that’s come before.
‘Destruction’ is the first word that comes to mind when I sit back and think about this year. It feels like a lot of existing structures and ways of being are being broken down and torn apart. The status quo is being challenged like never before. And I’m afraid we’re not quite done yet. Sounds a little bleak, I know, but there’s also reason for much optimism.
While this current period feels distressful and unnerving for many, as the ground shifts beneath us, it also brings lots of opportunity. Destruction paves way for creation. Flowers bloom after the storm. As the old foundations get pulled apart, new stronger foundations get laid in place. However, it’s likely going to be uncomfortable as hell for a lot of people while it happens. This essay is my thinking on some of the current and upcoming storms across a broad set of areas. These storms are affecting, or will affect every aspect of life, including some pillars we consider sacred — business, employment, technology, money, banking, finance/investing, healthcare, food, education, government, the nation-state, religion, entertainment and media. Nothing or no one will be untouched by these shifts. However, my intention isn’t to talk about doom and gloom. Instead, it is to offer my thoughts on what is driving these shifts, and describe some of the abundant opportunities I see arising as a result. In the process, I may challenge conventional thinking at times, but sincerely hope to also inspire new ideas in the reader.
This essay ended up becoming really long, so I’ve broken it up into two parts. In Part 1, I discuss the key drivers behind these shifts. In Part 2, I’ll dive into the implications of these shifts for the future of jobs/work, education, money/banking, etc.
Some of these shifts were already underway, the pandemic just significantly accelerated the process. Specifically, there are two main drivers of these shifts.
Information Age (Outer)
The first has to do with the outer, and our shift to an information society. In a book well ahead of it’s time, “The Sovereign Individual” (released in 1997) by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg, the authors offer bold predictions and implications of humanity’s rapid transition from the Industrial Age of the 20th century to the Information Age in the new millennium. While some predictions have still to be borne out, some have already come true including the rise of cryptocurrencies (a truly remarkable prediction to make in 1997, when the world was still just trying to make sense of the internet, and a good eleven years before the Bitcoin whitepaper was first published). Entering the next millennium, the authors said humanity was on the precipice of starting it’s fourth stage. There were only three previous stages of economic life — (1) hunter-gatherer societies, (2) agricultural societies and (3) industrial societies. We are now transitioning into the fourth stage, the information society.
Societal shifts of the past took centuries or millennia. It’s hard to tell in the moment, but this time, it’s happening at an exponential rate over just a lifetime, so it’s no wonder that a lot of the structures from the Industrial age still exist as holdovers today. These structures are now getting dismantled, or will get dismantled, as they no longer fit in the information age, just as knights and powerful monarchs no longer made sense in the industrial age (in most of the world at least). This age places a premium on the power of one’s ideas — something accessible to each and every person, anywhere in the world, as knowledge, skills and access to the internet continue to be democratized. Merit truly matters. For the first time in history, this power offers every individual the promise to free themselves from the shackles of big government, politics and lifelong employment, if they so desire. Welcome to the era of the truly sovereign individual, as predicted by the authors.
“Forty hour workweeks, regardless of the job.
Four year degrees, regardless of the major.
Four decades to retirement, regardless of the career.
Remnants of the Industrial Age.”
— Naval Ravikant (Entrepreneur and Investor)
Ideas like big firms, economies of scale, co-located offices, 9 to 5 employment, the geographic significance of some big cities due to the presence of opportunity and industry, big media, centralized finance, even centralized nation-states made sense in the pre-internet age. They make less sense in the information age. All you need for an office today is a laptop and an internet connection, freeing you to work from anywhere in the world. And since most of us no longer work on rigid assembly lines, most work tends to be fairly independent (although it’s hard to tell sometimes with our love for meetings!). Even pre-pandemic, some companies like Gumroad were proving that it is possible to build a successful company by being completely remote and asynchronous.
Heart Consciousness (Inner)
The second driver behind these shifts is much more subtle and has to do with the evolution of our inner world. Call it consciousness, the collective spirit or our collective shadow/unconscious as Carl Jung coined it. I am a big believer in our inner world driving the outer. Setting aside the hipster element, a hint that human consciousness is (re-)evolving is the reprise of ancient practices of inner introspection and awareness such as meditation, mindfulness, spirituality, alternative healing, psychedelics and yoga.
There was incredible advancement in the 20th century, but there was also a lot of unacknowledged darkness, fueled primarily by ego and the fear for survival. Political/corporate platitudes of integrity and equality veiling rampant corruption and greed. Social conformity and political correctness yet unmitigated division. The ruse of democracy offering an illusion of choice. Celebrity culture and the worship of modern-day gods or kings/queens (pop culture, CEOs, sports, politics, the wealthy), further contrasting the comparative insignificance of the individual. The importance of the nation-state, high taxation, an individual’s obligations to the state and patriotic wars for glory or to protect it from enemies of the state (“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”). The focus on winning and competition in business and career above all else. Hedonistic consumerism and consumption without pause on its impact to the world. Political games at work, and in government as a means of survival and getting ahead. The race to develop and grow technology, divorced from heart, with sometimes toxic consequences for societies, our communities and the earth. The “fake it till you make it” culture or pursuit of a fake, ideal presentation to the world, implying the inadequacy and fear of being one’s true self. Never having enough and never being enough. The ultimate importance and worship of form over substance. Knowledge over wisdom.
It sounds pretty skeptical and harsh, but the truth is that these structures cast a very dark and long shadow. And a lot was kept hidden away in those shadows. It was the era of illusion and ego-consciousness. What you saw on the outside in governments, companies, leaders and even individuals was seldom a true representation of their inner motivations and real selves. A lot of this obviously still persists, but the transition to a more evolved consciousness has started, as more people wake up, as if from a dream. Maybe the 2012 Mayan end of world predictions were never about the outer or physical, but an inner shift out of eons of ego-consciousness. Sometimes, it takes a bad dream or nightmare to jolt you awake. This is what 2020 is catalyzing for a world that is still mostly asleep under the spell of the ego-consciousness matrix.
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”
— Morpheus (“The Matrix”)
We are slowly waking up to the truth, and can finally see the ego-consciousness matrix for what it is — a paradigm based primarily on fear and illusion. We are shifting to a new dimension of heart-based consciousness — a paradigm based on love and truth. This is about leading from the intelligence and wisdom of the heart, rather than being slave to the ceaseless chatter and machinations of the ego-mind. But this isn’t to be mistaken for some idealistic vision where it’s all peaches and cream. Love and truth are messy, raw, real and filled with uncertainty, with equal potency for destruction and creation. As an initiation into truly living from the heart, they will demand we face our shadows and shed our ego-consciousness as well as any and all aspects of our selves that are tethered to control, attachment and illusion. This isn’t about dissolving the ego, it’s about giving up our ego-centered ways. Once again, events unfolding in 2020 are doing this for a lot of people, as the world is being ushered into heart-based consciousness.
What does a world of heart-based consciousness look like? At an individual level, living life with courage and resonance, rather than shrinking oneself and compromising, within and without. Being comfortable enough to be vulnerable, imperfect and one’s unique self. Loving and honoring oneself as a whole, sovereign being. Giving up false ideals of being selfless (aka dis-empowering oneself) will lead to less selfishness. No longer seeking outer validation will lead to stronger, more authentic relationships (personal and work) that flow naturally, while those that don’t resonate fall away. Being present to what-is, rather than always regretting what-was or worrying about what will-be. Abandonment of social conformity will paradoxically unite the world like never before. Having the courage to listen to one’s heart and do more of what one “wants to do”, rather than what one “should do”. Facing, acknowledging and accepting the shadows, rather than pretending they’re not there, or dressing them up with faux positivity. More people creating and building things and businesses that bring them alive, versus biding their days in soulless jobs, awaiting the weekend or the next vacation. Leaders that rise to serve and guide, versus fulfilling ego-fueled ambitions. Giving up the notion of superheroes or saviors and awakening the savior within each one of us. A balance of yin and yang, masculine and feminine, doing and being, action and rest, light and dark.
Too Big to Survive
The information age, and heart-based consciousness have deep implications for our world but by far the biggest and most important is the empowerment of the individual. Both outer and inner drivers are aligning to make this a reality. From the concentration of power with and worship of a few people, groups, corporations, institutions and governments to the liberation of the many. From ‘too big to fail’ to ‘too big to survive’. An untangling from centralization to decentralization. More than just money and cryptocurrencies, this theme of decentralization and individual empowerment will play out in every facet of our lives.
I don’t say the following lightly. We are now at the big bang moment for humanity’s advancement into a new era, where we unleash the full power of the information age in divine harmony with heart-based consciousness. This is going to lead to amazing creations, businesses and inventions the world never dreamed of. More than ever before, we need dreamers and builders to create and usher in a new world, as the old one literally starts crumbling away in front of us. We are entering a period of creativity that will eclipse the Renaissance period, and the new world we’re building will make the old one we’re leaving behind feel like something out of the dark ages.
But it’s not going to be all smooth riding to get there. Expect a lot of bumps on the road, as change and endings are inevitably uncomfortable, violently so at times. In Part 2, with the backdrop of the outer and inner drivers, individual empowerment and decentralization, I’ll discuss how I see the powerful impact of these shifts playing out across various aspects of our lives.