“Are we there yet?” seems to be the question we have all been asking after the unusual and crazy times we have been living through. We have had pandemics, economic downturns, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, windstorms, and an election season and we are still in September. We all want to get past this stuff and “arrive” to something better. Rather than just survive, we want to thrive again.
Humankind has always sought to thrive rather than just survive. A few hundred years ago we were relying on muscles to farm and feed ourselves. This was the agricultural age where our own strength and stamina determined if we ate that day. The quest to thrive led to the invention of machines – the steam engine, the cotton gin, tractors, combustion engine, electric turbine, etc. Each of these machines allowed us to do more than our muscles would allow. We moved from the agricultural era to the industrial era.
For over a century, the industrial era allowed people to do more with the aid of machines. Wealth began to grow. We still rely heavily on those machines today but we weren’t satisfied. We wanted to thrive again having become accustomed to the level of comfort we had attained.
We then began to use our minds more and that coupled with machines and computing, we entered the information age. Our economy began to shift from industrial reliance to becoming knowledge workers. While there are still labor intensive jobs and machine intensive jobs, more and more of job growth and creation came from using our minds and using information to make money. Most of America works as knowledge workers now. As a result, we produce less and import more. Our level of comfort and thriving grew and we are looking for the next level of being able to thrive.
From a reliance on muscles to machines to minds, we have thrived. From the agricultural age to industrial age to the information age, we have thrived. What is next in our quest to thrive?
Tim Elmore, an author and speaker, believes the next level of thriving will be the intelligence age and that it will be perhaps the most difficult for people to adapt to. He defines intelligence as the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and to act accordingly. To continue to thrive, we are going to have to develop some intelligence.
Intelligence requires thought. Which of these decisions is right and which is wrong? It is not just a moral question of right and wrong but it is the ability to think, weigh choices and make good decisions or in other words - critical thinking. Creative processing, analytic thought and writing, emotional intelligence and problem solving are all part of intelligence.
My favorite class in elementary school was my time in the extended learning program. We were given the opportunity to think and make decisions. We were encouraged to be creative. We were given problems and some resources and asked to solve the problem. We were encouraged to dream and decide between solutions and choices based on thinking about the positive and negative consequences and weighing them. In hindsight, many of the skills I learned and developed in that program I use every day in my career and life.
As my older children are beginning the process of moving into adulthood, I can only hope that we as parents have taught them to think. We hope that they have developed enough intelligence to not only survive these trying times but to thrive in them.
We are not stuck where we are at. We each can learn to think and develop our intelligence. We can learn resilience, integrity, problem-solving, discipline, communication, responsibility, accountability and commitment. These skills and the intelligence they provide will empower us to progress and thrive in uncertain futures.
This blog allows you to experience the raw, gut wrenching drama of human conflict through accounting in each of its three stages: preparing to do battle, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.