At the start of the second day of Loeries Creative Week 2021, John Sanei – trendsetter and author – led a masterclass on building a purposeful future.
The first thing we need to realize, according to Sanei, is that there are many factors to consider before understanding what “purpose” means in the modern world. Beyond this understanding, there are processes we need to recognize as intrinsically part of us – and some we need to throw to the wolves to move forward.
Sanei thinks we are addicted to certainty. However, certain events have occurred in recent years that have snatched our ability to be certain – namely, the biggest event, the Covid-19 pandemic. Our brain is drawn to predictability, and when predictions become harder to make, we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation where we are forced to change. While we may not have been happy with the normalcy we experienced before the pandemic, we are still drawn to it – humans are reluctant to truly embrace change.
This is where the process of transformation comes in, and there are three stages that Sanei highlights:
- Sadness: The understanding that there is an identity you need to leave behind, which can be hard to accept.
- Odd: Where are you going now that you know you have to leave that identity behind?
- Adventure: Finding your bearings, accepting change and moving forward with the new.
Sanei thinks that at this point in our lives, we are still in sadness and the strange stages of transformation, but the adventure is yet to come.
Throughout history, cycles of change have been identified in terms of what we need to prioritize to be successful. The first cycle looks at three distinct revolutions that have characterized what is important for success:
- Agriculture: It was all about body strength – how long can you physically put in to work to make sure you’re producing what you need?
- Industrial: With the introduction of machines to do what we need, intelligence has become the main aspect of success in this era.
- Quantum: We are now seeing the introduction of Artificial Intelligence that the way we make decisions must change – and rely more on intuition than on left-brain intelligence and thinking.
The second cycle Sanei referenced from The Fourth Turn by Neil Howe and William Strauss. The book focuses on the cycles of history and how we have relived the same cycles every 100 years.
- The top : The most recent peak we experienced was in 1946, just after World War II. Things were optimistic and a peaceful life strategy was adopted.
- awakening: The most recent revival we have experienced was in 1964, which marked a spiritual upheaval and the introduction of new ways of communicating with computers.
- The outcome : This cycle began in 1984 and marked the beginning of the dismantling of the ideas of communism in places like China, as well as the idea of “profit above all”. The 9/11 tragedy also sparked the start of conspiracy theories.
- Crisis: This cycle started in 2008 with the financial crisis. Marking a secular upheaval, this cycle is still ongoing and is expected to continue until 2028.
Crisis of meaning
The main effect we see with these cycles is that at many times people experience a crisis of meaning.
Today, we can especially see it in the way we try to find purpose in an increasingly AI-driven world. Where is our goal? The answer is not necessarily simple, but can be summed up in a few words; we need to embrace a learning economy.
With the increasing changes in society, we find ourselves at an impasse: do we embrace the past, which seems to be the easy choice, or do we look to the future, even if we are uncertain about it?
Purpose in a changing world
Intuition requires meaning. We understand that with the penetration of AI, many jobs are once again becoming obsolete, as some did during the industrial revolution. Again, we must determine what our goal will be in the new world.
Sanei believes that intuition and embracing curiosity is the only way to move forward effectively. Purpose is not necessarily a tangible thing we can hold, but rather a process of embracing wisdom, curiosity, intuition, and reimagining. Not stagnating means not falling into the trap of being “resilient”, and instead embracing the change ahead, being wired for the puzzle, not the solution, to stay relevant.