Comprehending The 21st Century

Questioning our family of origin beliefs, mindsets, and values.

The deeper we move into the 21st Century, the clearer it is that this century is going to be unprecedented. Already it's awash with scary trends, startling opportunities, and new responsibilities. Phenomena like globalization, automation, cyber warfare, and polarizing ideologies, to name only the most inspiring or scariest headline grabbers, are bringing into our lives the proposition that everything we learned at our mother's knee may be wrong. As well as the suggestion that many of this century's most radical ideas about how the world works may actually be much better ways for us to see and understand ourselves, our relationships, and the world we're now a part of than anything we learned growing up. Put simply, it seems there are more and more reasons every day why each of us needs to seriously question the fundamental belief systems that we inherited from our families-of-origin. Reasons why we need to dismantle and rebuild the very architecture of our homespun worldviews.

In my February 2018 blog, Lost in the 21st Century, I suggested that those of us who are aware of today's new complexities may sometimes feel like we're wondering around in a mind-numbing wilderness. While I think this is often true, I also think it's true that we nonetheless are searching seriously for more effective, more complex modes of thinking, feeling and acting. 

Transformational Doorways

What follows just below are three "doorways" that, in my experience, are good ways each of us can initiate, deepen, and/or accelerate our own personal transformation. Take a look at each of these doorways; Which one(s) seem like they might open up a transformative path that could move you forward, either personally or professionally?


 Everyday, the opinions you offer your friends, the explanations you give your colleagues, and the stories you share with your loved ones are delivered using words that you’ve drawn from deep within yourself. In 2001, Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey showed us two key things about the conversations we have everyday: First how the ordinary words we use in these conversations are mirrors of our deepest self; and second, how training ourselves to talk in clear ways about personal commitment, personal responsibility, and our family-of-origin assumptions will reflex back on us and our consciousness, promoting significant changes in the soft-wiring in our brains and minds and, most importantly, in the real-world action that flows out of this neurobiological wiring. For a sense of how this works, take a quick look at Kegan and Lahey's book,  How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work,


DOORWAY #2: A “VITAL HALF-SECOND's” worth of Awareness

A half second may not seem like much to you, but for your brain it’s a very, very long time. It takes 500 to 600 milliseconds (half a second) for your conscious mind to register incoming information. But your mind's primitive threat management system processes the sensory, motor, and emotional inputs it’s getting in 10-50 milliseconds. The difference between these two time frames is impossible for us to comprehend. Consequently, our brains constantly construct for us the illusion that we are in conscious control of our own thought processes and the things we do in response. Louis Cozolino understands how questionable this belief is; more importantly he's identified  techniques that can help you learn how to insert some conscious awareness inside the half second between the time your unconscious mind registers some new input and your biological reflexes drive you to act. For a sense of how this works, take a quick look at Cozolino's ideas about how to increase your conscious control over what previously has been your automatic reactions to any perceive threat; Why Therapy Works: Using Our Minds To Change Our Brains,


DOORWAY #3: REFRAMING Old Belief Systems

One of the more important things you can realize about yourself is that, while the world around you is constantly changing, becoming more and more complex, you most likely are still perceiving and interpreting the world through the mindset you inherited from your parents, i.e., people who were born as much as a century ago. This, in today's world, is like trying to compete in the Indianapolis 500 while driving a 1910 Model T.

Your mindset is a complex set of unquestioned and unquestionable assumptions, presumptions, and beliefs you hold about others, the world, and yourself. A mindset is the set of unconscious tools that you use to make sense of the world. Annette Prehn, like other researchers, authors, and consultants working in this area, firmly believes your mindset is malleable. Moreover, she’s clear your mindset can be intentionally reframed so that it offers a better match for today’s complexities. For a sense of how this works, take a quick looking at two Udemy courses that can help you do just this The Neuroscience of Reframing And How To Do It, and a master class titled Master Your Mindset and Brain: Firestorm Your Way To Success.

Doing Something New

This century's newest phenomena -- events and trends like globalization, ethnic conflicts, and radically accelerating technological advances -- are pushing into our lives things -- events, ideas, people, and gadgets -- that are simultaneously amazing, incomprehensible, and scary. The kind of tumult and disruption most of us would just as soon ignore. I started Transformational Learning Opportunities because I know that eventually this kind of denial isn't going to serve us well. And because I think that all these new events, ideas, people, and gadgets can be things we can benefit from, if only we find the strength of mind to pay attention to them, eventually finding ways to ask ourselves the right questions. Especially this one; "How we can best to learn from both what's scary and what's inspiring? 

Today, none of us can afford to continue living alone in the echo chambers of our own outdated reasoning.