Here’s quick, working definitions of each of the five biggest disruptors driving the relentless change and ambiguity impacting everyone in different, yet interrelated, ways:
 
Algorithms
Algorithms are processes or sets of rules followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by computers. Algorithms gather data about everyone and everything, from every imaginable, interconnected source, and this data is now the global economy’s most valuable resource. Click here for a deeper dive.
 
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems, and its operational use is multiplying across all industries and disciplines. Click here for a deeper dive.
 
Biotechnology 
Biotech is the manipulation of living organisms or their components to produce useful, usually commercial,products. Click here for a deeper dive.
 
Climate Change 
Climate Change is the shift in global or regional climate patterns, occurring from the mid-to-late 20th Century onward, attributed largely to increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. Click here for a deeper dive.
 
Industrial Complexes
Industrial Complexes arise when a specific industry (health insurance, oil, energy, guns, tobacco, media, higher education, etc.) and its proponents or lobbyists become fully enmeshed in social and political systems. In most cases, industry insiders profit at the expense of outsiders and society in general. Click here for a deeper dive.
 
There are three core lifelong strengths that will help us thrive amid the disruptions defined above:
  1. Mindfulness: This is the practice of becoming more fully aware of, and focused on, what’s taking place within and around you. It’s concentration and compassion on steroids.
  2. Learning Agility: Learning agility is seeking new and challenging experiences, receiving and applying feedback along the way, and reflecting on what you’re learning.
  3. Storytelling: This is the art and science of influencing others to realize or feel something and take specific action. It’s not just telling great stories but being a great story that helps others.

 

Here’s our challenge: We’re inundated with demands, information, and endless options, within a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. We’re distracted, and this situation worsens every minute as demands proliferate and more information and choices become available. We can cut through this clutter, however, and reduce the noise by developing these strengths cited above and focusing on what matters the most to us and others. 

John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.