Complex transformations— societal, technological and work-related—are having a profound impact on people’s lived experiences. A common theme isGlobal Risks 2019, World Economic Forum
psychologicalstress related to a feeling of lack of control in the face of uncertainty. These issues deserve more attention: declining psychological and emotional wellbeing is a risk in itself—and one that also affects the wider global risks landscape, notably via impacts on social cohesion and politics.
Many of us have been taught to look to our environment for our center.
It’s an important part of our development – fitting in to get our needs met, to find safety.
Those who risk working and thinking outside of environmental norms are punished – overtly or covertly.
There’s an assumption that the environment CAN protect us, provide our needs, allow us to function.
Part of that environment is our cultural institutions. We have an expectation that these institutions will provide a center that we can use. We’ve moved responsibility for establishing that foundation to them.
In exchange for our labor, our energy, and our belief – the institutions provide the money for us to make a living, societal belonging, a framework of belief. For many of us, this has worked well.
The last couple of years has shown me that we may have leaned on these institutions a bit too heavily. Or, at least, I have.
A few years back, an entrepreneurial friend of mine asked if I really felt “secure” in my job. “Wendy, ‘safety’ is an illusion. If you are working for someone else, don’t assume you are safe.”
He didn’t tell me to leave my job (though I ultimately did). His advice was to make sure I establish a foundation that is mine alone. He asked me to think about developing the skills, network, and personal infrastructure such that no matter what happens, I have something to fall back on.
As I’ve observed my more entrepreneurial friends over the years, I watched them close businesses, go in and out of jobs, and start new businesses.
For each of them, when they went into a job, they did so to help serve a mission that was important to them. When they get what they need out of the environment, and they have done as much as they can do towards the organization’s mission, they return to their personal foundation.
The friends that are thriving right now are the ones who operate with a strong personal center. They are not relying on our institutions for sustenance, security, or belonging.
They understand that certainty is only found within.
They understand that we can only control ourselves.
They realize that our best chance at functioning in this complex world is through keeping a strong personal center, making decisions based on that center.
The outward expression is the development of healthy, supportive, mutually fulfilling relationships with others in their immediate environment.
It may be just that simple.