My friend and best-selling author, Thales Teixeira, told me that the majority of his clients liken the crisis to driving in a heavy fog. We can barely see in front of us and must move slowly while being able to swerve at a moment’s notice. In other words, companies can no longer plan years ahead in advance. They must focus on the immediacy of the moment while trying to move forward cautiously.
As individuals, we have quickly become very short term oriented as well. Our focus has changed from the pursuit of the American dream to simply getting through the day. In many respects, it is like any catastrophic event in our personal lives. A sense of mourning takes place after the initial shock, followed by a sense of loss that makes us wonder how we can go on.
The fact that we hurt is yet another reminder that we are human. Self awareness is a unique human gift and one that cannot be replicated by technology. We feel things and, in my opinion, that may be the guiding light amidst this fog. Whether the fear is justified or not is not important. What is relevant is that the fear is ours and how we react is up to us.
While data has dominated our boardrooms and our homes, artificial intelligence is an oxymoron and augmented reality is not real. Technology cannot be truly intelligent without feelings, and experiences cannot be experienced without engaging all of our senses. So I suggest that this is the opportunity of a lifetime rather than the crisis of a lifetime. In turn, we have the chance to wake up for the first time in a very long while.
Data is fine to help us make decisions, but it cannot actually make the decisions for us. In fact, one could argue that data has become just another mechanism to hide from risk. As an example, imagine someone who says “Hey man, I know that deal went south, but the data told us it was the right thing to do. So, it ain’t my fault!” You see, data and technology provide us a the chance to hide from perceived threats. Humans, however, are engineered to embrace risk rather than run.
I once told my daughter that the stories she will share with her kids will not be her own. They will be about the people she watched on Youtube. And while that is kind of funny, it is super scary to think that we are outsourcing what makes us human to technology. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we all go camping. Hell, I hate bugs and snakes as much as the next guy. But we could take a walk, read a book, paint or even have a 20 minute conversation without looking at our phone!
The pandemic sucks and it is easy to feel like we have been derailed. But is it possible that we were off track before this? How much more information do we really need? Our kids no longer regale us with tales of their adventures let alone look up at us from their devices. The bigger issue for all of us is the loss of imagination and even personality due to the digital addiction. That is what should truly frightens us.
Everything is structured. Kids are play-dated from the moment they are born. School has become so redundant that robots are administering the curriculum. It makes you wonder where are the John Keatings of the world? We need inspiration in order to find better versions of ourselves individually and collectively.
Rediscovering our spirituality is a fantastic place to start. Humans are spiritual creatures full of emotion. And we have souls that need to be nourished through imagination, human connection and our independent will. Therefore, we can no longer delegate our lives to data and technology. Just like a virus that infiltrates our physical immunity, a reliance on data and technology breaks down the fabric of what makes us truly human.
It is possible that because we have lost what makes us human, we are collectively going through the five stages of grieving—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And once we start to accept that what we had is gone, we can start to think about living a life worth living. In some cases, we use the people we have lost as motivation to achieve our potential.
Things seem foggy right now and our inclination is to keep an eye out for a light in the distance. I would like to offer you, however, the possibility that the light exists within you. It may need to be reignited, but once you tap into your humanness, your world will shine brightly.