We are in the midst of colliding transformative forces in almost every context of our lives—culture, geo-political, national, media, religion, economy, career, gender identity, family, technology, communications…the list could go on.
This swirl of change threatens to overwhelm and isolate us from one another and from the future that nearly every one of us yearns for—a future where our children and our children’s children can live without fear, where the dignity and rights of every person is cherished, where our honest labor pays a living wage, and where our communities—from village to state, from state to nation, and from nation to planet—provide a home for our common humanity and our distinct experiences and perspectives.
If there ever was a time that called for wisdom, this is it. And as much as we might like to wish we already know everything we need to know to navigate these turbulent times, I think history tells us that thinking and doing the things that got us here—essentially doing “Plan A” harder,” is failing us. We’ve simply come to the learning edge of our wisdom.
In short, I believe we need massive collaborative learning to create the fertile ground for “Plan B…and C and D” to emerge and help us find our collective way.
I can’t begin to know everything we need to learn—by definition, we don’t know what we don’t know. But from 30 years of helping leaders and organizations learn and change, I do have some thoughts about some of the things we can do together to create the conditions for us to build the real learning, real insight, real innovation, and real wisdom we need.
As Martin Luther King said and so many have repeated, the arc of history bends toward justice—but the arc is made of people, and that bending toward justice happens only when people individually and collectively learn and change. In today’s polarized environment, it’s easy to spot what others need to learn. But, the truth is I need to learn. You need to learn, we need to learn.