"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less.”
General Eric Shinseki
[The following post is excerpted from my upcoming book 'Avoiding the Enemies to Happiness']
The world is changing, and changing at a massive and accelerating rate. More information, more stimulus, new ways of doing things, faster ways of doing things in an ongoing race that touches us in every way. Technological change is driving business change, societal change, environmental change and even personal change. It can be a struggle to just keep up.
To understand how massive this change is and how it’s accelerating at an ever growing rate, to get a graphic sense of just how fast the change is accelerating, you need to see a few graphs. Let’s start by looking at the amount of invention in the world. Technological invention drives change in our lives. New ways of doing things change the way we work, the way we live and just about every aspect of our lives.
Below is a graph of the number of patents filed in the United States per year. You can see that the graph starts relatively flat, with a small rate of growth over the last 100 years. Indeed, the amount of invention over the last couple of thousand years has been relatively small compared to recent growth. But look what happens from about 1980 onwards. The graph starts to rise and rise at a sharper and sharper rate.
[Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov)]
The shape of this graph is known as an exponential curve. This shape comes about due to a process of growth in which the size increases by a fixed multiple over time. For example, in computing there is a law known as ‘Moore’s Law’, coined by Gordon Moore, one of the inventors of the Microprocessor. Moore’s Law predicts that the power of computing will double approximately every 2 years. To get a sense of this, imagine that we start off with 1 unit of computing power. In 2 years time this will have doubled to 2 units. In a further 2 years, we will have 4 units of computing power. Two years later this will double to 8 units, then 16 units, 32 units, 64 units and so on. You can see from this that at first things appear to be growing slowly, but as the size increases, the doublings really start to make a powerful difference. This is the power of exponential growth. Once you reach the turning point, the graph just takes off and explodes upwards.
Importantly, it turns out that exponential growth – that is massively accelerating growth and change – is not just happening in the price/performance of computing. As you’ve seen from the previous graph, the number of patents for inventions is changing at an exponential rate and it’s now at the near vertical rate of growth. This accelerating rate of invention is in part what is driving Moore’s Law in the area of electronics and computing. And these massive changes in computing have lead to the growth and uptake of the internet. Let’s take a look at what its growth looks like.
[Source: Internet Systems Consortium, Inc. (http://www.isc.org/)]
You can see from this graph that it’s the same sort of curve and that the rate of growth of the internet is now in the near vertical part of the curve. So what does this mean? It means that the rate at which the internet is growing and changing is massively accelerating. More change and quicker change. Incredible.
The rate of invention development is also feeding other diverse areas such as:
- Genetic Engineering: Number of genes mapped per year
- Medical Technology: Resolution of brain scanning devices
- Industry: Manufacturing productivity rates
- Economics: World Economic Growth in GDP.
You can clearly see that the world is now at a point where the exponential change is producing massively accelerating growth. We are on the steep point of the curve and it’s only going to get bigger and steeper from here. You see, the limits now are not going to be human limits. We are creating intelligent automated systems that are designed to create and generate ideas and knowledge themselves. For example, we now have millions of web pages created each day by ‘know-bots’ (knowledge robots) – automated systems that crawl the web and synthesize, integrate and generate new web pages. Add in Moore’s Law to this and you’ll see that these bots are going to get faster and more powerful and more plentiful.
So what does this mean to you?
Well, as one interesting YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmwwrGV_aiE) created by Dr. Scott McLeod and Karl Fisch puts it: “Shift happens”.
Yes, your world is going to continue to change in massively accelerating ways. Society is changing and changing massively. Work is going to change immensely. Economics is going to change in accelerating ways. The way you live and connect is going to continue and continue to change... massively! You’ll have to keep up. If you don’t you’ll get run over. In order to stay economically viable, you’ll have to continue to learn and adapt. Or like the dinosaur you’ll become extinct. There’s no ignoring it. There’s no escaping it.
This massively accelerating change means there will always be ‘too much, too soon’ in our lives. Unless you become a change master and learn to ride the wave of change, your happiness will suffer. The stress and overwhelm of ‘too much, too soon’ are enemies to happiness. The good news is that there are skills, attitudes and strategies you can use to increase your resilience and embrace change so that it enhances your life. If you fight change, it will literally kill you. The stress of massive change can impact your mental, emotional and importantly your physical health.
"Worry and stress affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system, and profoundly affects heart action.”
Charles W. Mayo, M.D.
There are ways of learning to embrace change, to be comfortable with it, to value it in your heart, to not feel threatened by it at a gut level. You can learn to bring wisdom to how you embrace change and to evolve with it. The neural networks of your head, heart and gut brains (see www.mbraining.com for more info about this) have neural-plasticity. You can literally learn to evolve more complexity and more adaptive ways of processing change. And this is what my upcoming book 'Avoiding the Enemies to Happiness' teaches the behavioral skills and competencies of. So stay tuned for when it hits the Amazon book shelves soon. And in the mean time, if you haven't already, grab a copy of my book 'mBraining - Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff', co-authored with my colleague Marvin Oka, and learn the skills of connecting with and utilizing the intuitive intelligences of your heart and gut brains.
life enhancing wishes