21st Century Thinking

I started this thread with the idea that the 21st century is likely to be very different than the one that came before it. Indeed, it is likely to be very different form ALL of the centuries that came before it. That has been the trend. But is there a reason why it might come about? The answer is “yes”. Something indeed has already changed from the 20th century and we are just beginning to sort out what it means for us. That is, in my view, a new way of thinking about knowledge acquisition. We are starting to learn how to learn.

We are learning that intelligence and creativity are not fixed characteristics but arise and fade depending other factors. And one of these factors has to do with how we ocnnect to things and peopel around us. As sTeve Johnson said, gaining new ideas has a social dimension. This is a good reason to think deeply about connection — what connects us and what does not. It is a starting point to enhanc eour individual capacity to focus.

But focus comes not by sitting there and doing nothing. It comes from activity. And to stimulate focus through activity, we need another concept or intellectual tool, and this is gamification. Playing brings focus. So we spent some time talking about gamification. How does it work? What can it give us? We discover that it gives us quite a lot. But it does not help us decide what games to play. Oops!

Well, where do we acquire this ability? At its core, this is a strategic problem. And to make good strategic choices we need to understand some things aobut how strategy works. It turns out that strategic thinking is rather different than what we are taught at school. Perhaps this is why some very very successful entrepreneurs didn’t bother finishing university.

But this is also not enough. Strategies are tools to make decisions in order to position us for the future. But this presumes something. It presumes thta we already see what is valuable. It presumes that we can think about the future in terms of fixed fixed values. So strategies to find gold are useless if gold itself will have no value in the future.

What gives us the confidence that in the future, what we value now will have value then? What gives the future its coherence? It is an important question — and a controversial one. Certain 20th century thinkers challenged man’s ability to find coherence at all — I am thinking of Becket and others like him.

The answer lies in our emotions – not in our intellect. And as we look closer at whether our emotions are coherent or not, we cannot help to place this line of thinking in stories. Story telling and living stories are part of our 21st century skill set. More on this later.

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