After reading so many books and life stories and biographies of people, I’ve noticed a common denominator: very rarely do people do the same job all their life or that life goes on as they planned when they were young. And when the dramatic news or event come in which they loose their job, they are taken by surprise and totally lost and confused.
So this brought me to create the « Chaos of life theory ».
The Chaos of life theory is extremely simple: taking into account that an average human lives 75 years old, and considering this ever exponential rate in the advancement in technologies and human race, odds are almost 100% that whatever you’ve learned when you were young (college, university, careers moves, etc) will be obsolete somewhere within your lifetime, most often at the worst possible time.
That notion is so important to me that it is one of the main drivers of my life. Knowing that whatever I do can become obsolete, replaced in the near of far future (and most importantly catch me off guard and screw my plans) has a strong influence on my every day decision making and my work-related moves. I’ve seen and heard so many stories of people having what they thought were safe jobs and that they could sit on their laureates for the rest of their life, not having to think about work or money again, and then, at age 50, just a few years before they retire and take it easy, loose their jobs. At that moment, they become so lost, so scared and confused because they never had a “Plan B” and were blindly relying on what they thought they’d always have. And you can’t really blame them: it’s the human brain’s default behavior: find security and settle in.
But in the crazy technological & dynamic world we live today, we just can’t settle in comfort. We’ve got to be smarter than our DNA and be proactive rather then reactive about life.
So who are those people that got affected by the Chaos of Life in the past?
- The zeppelin specialists in the 1910’s thought that they’d always work in that sector and their job was secured. Hell, by 1914, there was more then 34 000 people that had travelled in zeppelins: it was the future of transportation. Little did they know that the Hindenburg disaster would be the last nail in the coffin for that technology and that they’d suddently be out of work.
- The highly specialized women “weaving” memory modules for the Apollo program computers and other high end, high paying applications in the 60’s thought they were at the top of the world… until a few years later advancement in computer chips meant they were obsolete. Being too specialized might not the the Holy Grail of life after all.
- Your grandfather in the 70’s took his high paying job at the factory for granted, but was soon replaced by automated assembly robots.
- Or what about the shoemaker, thinking “we’re always going to need shoes” and that, in the 80’s they started to close their shop one by one because new technologies and higher per-household revenues meant that shoes were now becoming a disposable commodity. Nobody were repairing their shoes or replacing their soles anymore.
- More recently? What about the network experts, installing networking cables from the 90’s to early 2000? Now, everything is wireless. They were paid a lot to do that and it was the job of the future. And it lasted for so little time.
- And photographers that thought that high paying gigs were always going to be easy and fun and that they could do their jobs for the next 40 years without fear? I talked to a photographer 2 weeks ago that was telling me that in 2004, when suddenly high quality, sub 1000$ DSLR cameras became affordable to our little “photographer inside of you” then everybody bought one and he lost his job. I’m sure that you have a DSLR, laying somewhere in a box. At that point, everybody became a photographer and competition drove prices down big time. Only the ones that were highly creative kept their job. And remember this, because it’s a key concept.
What could that poor shoemaker do, after working on shoes and specializing in that specific field for so long, never learning anything else? Make no mistake, I’m not laughing about that, I’m just pointing the facts and telling you that you too, should care and be scared about it. More importantly, I’m don’t want it to happen to me in my lifetime and none of my friends, because I’d be really sad about it since it’s preventable.
But the Chaos of Life theory is not just about you loosing your job because of technological advancements. It could be many more things:
- Climate change
- will cause rise in water levels globally, up to 7 meters they say within our lifetime
- will cause accelerated desertifiation
- will cause the cost of growing crops to rise quickly since we’ll need to prepare for more chaotic and unpredictable weather systems (more rain, droughts, heat, freezing, etc)
- Too much technology, too fast
- most people don’t follow technologies and will be swept by it because they believe that the way they live now will stay like this forever
- people could revolt against those fast changes and the fact that they just can’t keep up with its pace (think about the 1% manifestations worldwide as a precursor of that). So what could happen next, wars? Global governments meltdowns?
- The Matrix effect
- what if people feel too “observed” and revolt about it? We are going toward a world where every technology company is racing to put a camera in your living room (Xbox One Kinect, Smart TVs, laptops, etc) and microphones everywhere ( the Kinect is always on, recording what you say (yes, they even call it a feature), smartphones in your pockets) and trying to gather as much information about you, your family, your network (Facebook, Twitter) etc.
- people will eventually wake up and smell the smoke, but how will they react about it?
Although it could be scary for some, I’m not scared (well… a bit). But the point is not to be scared, but rather know what could be coming and see what opportunities could arise form that and take advantage of it.
So how do you take advantage of the Chaos of Life? Let’s take one of the above points:
- Climate change: rise of the water levels
- Understand what will happen because of that. It means that either whole cities will need to become new Venices, that houses will either be destroyed or be raised on pilotis.
- Think about cities like Miami where most ocean front properties are worth millions and how most of that city will turn Atlantis. What will happen? Will they build a 200 km long barrier to protect the city à la Netherlands at an incredible cost? Raise all houses one by one? Destroy them? Whatever happen is going to cost a lot of money and might ruin cities, governments…
- This is where smart, resourceful humans will come in: humans will always find a solution, solve any problem. It is in our nature, and it is what we LOVE TO DO.
- creating a 200 km barrier to block water will cost billions if done with today’s means, so how to do it? Well automated robots could do that for extremely low cost. Forget the way-too-highly-paid construction workers that always complain and want to earn more while doing less, going on strikes, etc. They’ll really soon be replaced by robots, just like the line assembly worker.
- Robots can work relentlessly, 24/7, 365 days a year with absolute precision and efficiency, so they will be able to build a 200 km reef at low cost. Robots are the future.
- Got it yet? YOU could be the one who design this technology. And the greatest part is that you have a 15 years head-start to build the required technology .
- Know opportunities, read a lot, and draw the lines between the dots and you’ll never be caught off guard by the Chaos of Life.
So all this is fine and scary, but what can I do to protect myself from the Chaos of life? How can I prevent it, make it work for me instead of against me? Even better, how can I take advantage of it?
- READ, a LOT
- Read every day. In the bus, while waiting for someone, before bed, anywhere, anytime. You have no excuse to not learn amazing things every time you have 5 min. And it’s now so easy with tablets and smartphones to always have a book with you.
- Ryan Holiday wrote a great article on how to read more and why you have no excuses for not doing it.
- Know that if you’re not learning, thousands of people are learning more than you and will pass right by you on the way to a better life. Don’t be left behind because you think you know enough or even more dangerously “that you konw more than others”.
- The more you know, the easier it is to solve problems or find new ideas or see opportunities.
- LEARN, a LOT
- Never, ever stop learning. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. There is no such thing as “intellectual status quo”. You’re in front or you’re regressing. If you stop learning now because you settle in comfort and believe you won’t need it, you’ll be really thrilled when you’ll loose your job at 48 years old and have no other competencies.
- Learning is not only rewarding but an absolute necessity of the future. You must have a “Jason Bourne”, secret-agent-type general knowledge of the world. You can specialize in one thing, but keep 50% of your time to generalize. Know geography, politics, success stories, the history from the last 10 000 years (“history repeats” is not a fun proverb, it’s a key concept), trends, future technology, events, etc.
- By learning a lot in different domains you’ll be ten fold more creative when doing anything.
- BLOG, a LOT
- Didn’t think about that one, did you? I think that blogging is the single best learning tool in the world. Better even than going to university. It allows you to become sentient in a society of human drones. Blog, no matter who you are, what you do, what you think you’ll do, whatever. In the future, you MUST become a thought leader in order not to survive, but THRIVE.
- By putting your thoughts on paper helps you remember it, structure it and explain it. It will then be much easier to apply in all circonstances then before.
- I realized only recently that even if you’re good in something, without the formal education, you still have a huge advantage in learning the key concepts and structure. For example, I’ve been a self-thought programmer since the age of 10. So I’m pretty decent at it. BUT, all the ideas, concepts and notions are in a “messy state” in my mind. They come and go in a chaotic, inefficient way. Recently, I finally decided to learn it properly, read about all functions, concepts, object oriented programming, etc so that they can be compartmentalized in my brain and much more easily accessible, faster, with less confusion.
- Well, blogging does exactly that: it help you structure the ideas that you already know into easily accessible blocks of informations that you will be able to use in every day life. In other words, you’ll be able to “draw the line between the dots” much more easily and come with better answers to problems or events on a more frequent basis.
- Blogging is the new higher education on steroid.
- EXPERIMENT & CREATE, well… you know… a LOT
- Do (build, create) as many different things as possible: build a small wooden catapult, cook new meals with unknown spices, create clay pots, create 3D designs, skydive, etc.
- Practice learning: learn to dance, program PHP, kite surfing, speed reading, play an instrument, etc.
- By experimenting, your brain becomes ever more flexible and open to change, problem solving and you start seeing the Matrix, like I like to say. You find it every day a bit easier to solve problems, find the cues, see what’s wrong, etc. And this is a KEY SKILL of the future.
- Have a FLEXIBLE MINDSET (a LOT)
- Never take for granted that you’re done learning, that you found the best way of doing something. Always keep your mind open and flexible about everything: ideas, technologies, new ways of doing things, new demographics, new laws, etc.
- NEVER be mad or offended by the fact that the world KEEPS MOVING WITHOUT YOU.
- It’s the normal cycle of life. Kids that are 12-18 will do things differently than you did. It’s not worse or better, it’s just different. So don’t be scared that they are learning more and faster than you, embrace it and take advantage of it. See opportunities in it. If they use a new technology or sites like Tumblr or Vine or Pinterest and you think that those sites sucks, then I can assure you that you’re setting yourself to become obsolete REALLY SOON.
- Every day, I actually practice myself to be open minded and I work on never becoming of of those people that say “these new kids are worthless because they do so and so”. Each times that I say or have a though like “oh this thing or fad is stupid”, I stop, take a deep breath and literally force myself to try it. And it happens to me often, it’s just a basic part of our DNA and of human nature. Evolve with the world you live in or be left behind. It’s that simple. But you know what? Forcing yourself to try stuff in that matter is really great, and you’ll love it.
- Nurture a UBER ATHLETIC BODY
- Nothing less. Remember what I said in my article about life and mindsets? Don’t aim to be second to last: aim for 1rst place. I believe that you should always stay at the top of your game, with an amazing VO2 Max (for clearer thinking and higher energy levels) and a great muscle-to-weight ratio with 10-12% body fat (strong core = the most amazing feeling in the world). Although nothing is perfect and I’m still working on finding the balance, it’s one of my top priorities. I want to be like this 90 something year old woman that is still doing incredible feats of strength in her yoga class. Growing old like this will be the new uber.
- Uber athletic body, isn’t it a bit over-the-top? Again, this post is not meant for someone happy with an “OK life’, it’s meant for the people wanting to live a uber life, a life of greatness, possibilities, being at the top of their game well past their hundredth birthday. I think it makes no sense of learning so many things and accomplishing so much if you don’t take care of your body and want to live long.
- A great read on the effects of physical activity on the brain is Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey. He explains how we must exercise in order for our brain to stay at its peak efficiency. He gives many examples and case studies to prove his claims.
- Set CLEAR LIFE GOALS (at all times)
- One of the best thing in life, both because it’s highly rewarding but also highly motivating is to have clear, measurable S.M.A.R.T. daily, weekly, monthly, biannually, annually and finally global life goals.
- It has been one of the best driver for my progress in the last 5 years. I want something clear out of life and it’s exciting to get up in the morning when you have a vision, a dream.
- But never forget this: success is not only about the destination, but also about the journey. So enjoy all that hardship that you need to face in order to get there: it’s probably even the best part. And when you’ll finally make it to your goals, you’ll be so ecstatic about it that it will be the best day of your life.
The best part about the above points is that the vast majority of people will never do that or do enough of it, with regularity. Comfort is a mind-killer. In other words, if you do those things, you’ll always be part of the top 1 in 1000 or even 1 in 10 000 people that will always be at the top of the wave, be prepared, be proactive while everybody else react and get caught off guard. Many people read, but they read the news, novels, etc. You’d be amazed how easy it is to become part of the top 1%, the elite when you realize that fact and do those things every day.
You need to get smarter & more knowledgeable every day and especially in this new reality. Never forget also that there are 4 billion people living in poverty that will VERY soon have access to internet, a computer and all the free knowledge and education they want. I’m not only talking about developing countries, but also about slums, people living outside urban areas and the likes. And they will have the most dangerous tools at their disposal: desperation and extreme willpower. They will outlearn you, outdo you and outwork you because they want to improve their condition and they have no other choice if they want to survive. If you’re part of the “first world countries” and take your little comfort and university degree for granted: watch out, it will bite you back and you’ll be left in the dust of globalization. Don’t be the fat, under-educated, over-entertained Roman that thought he was invincible and was killed when the Barbarians invaded Rome.
So here it is, the Chaos of Life theory. It will happen to you, for sure. All you need to know is that with proper preparing, you’ll never be caught off guard and will always be riding the top of the wave.
But for now, who should be worried and who will be affected the first by this in the near 10-20 year future? Anybody doing jobs that are not creative, problem solving, knowledge based, etc. Anything that can’t be replaced by robots in the next 30-40 years. Jobs like garbage collecting, construction workers, home builders, taxi drivers, factory workers, government workers (I 100% believe that the future of Countries is with web-based citizen-driven governments, a bit like Wikipedia), etc. The first people to go away will be the highest paid ones that are easy to replace by robots (sorry construction workers, your days are numbered).
So prepare yourself for Chaos. It’s coming, and it’s gonna be an awesome, fantastic, exciting reality to live in. Why? Because it will get rid of all inefficiencies that we are currently living, and all the cash we are currently losing on non productive activities (again, think about the billions of dollars of bad management, fraud, corruption, etc in the construction sector) will be invested in better places, for the better good of mankind.
Be READY, EMBRACE CHANGE, SEEK OPPORTUNITIES., LEARN EVERY DAY because the future is coming and it will be awesome.