Welcome to 2020! How does it feel so far? If you're like me you're probably wondering what is going on in the world? And it's only the first week! One of the benefits of curating articles for The Citrine Room is that I get to read a lot. I go through dozens of websites and publications looking for articles that bring a different perspective to the headlines as well as articles about people and issues that have an interesting, if not different, take on life. What has become clear to me in the time since I started The Citrine Room is that this world is desperate for change. And that's saying a lot since I used to anchor world news and be at the forefront of major headlines every single day. Today, it feels as though we are buckling under the pressure of life in its current form.
Let's take a look at some of the major issues that are emerging. Natural disasters. They are undeniable scientific proof of earth under major threat from human activity. Take the fires that have been raging across Australia since September. What has been happening there is a combination of factors: record temperatures for one, and not the least, the country's insatiable need for growth at all and any costs. In Australia there is still a blatant disregard for science and the Australian Aboriginals' innate knowledge of their land in the highest levels of politics. Remember, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called climate change "absolute crap." And this current government of Scott Morrison is no better, continuing to deny reality. Btw, Australia is the third worst of the G20 countries when it comes to climate change policies and it is the world's largest exporter of coal. In a piece for The Atlantic Robinson Meyer writes:
"For the past few decades, the arid and affluent country of 25 million has padded out its economy—otherwise dominated by sandy beaches and a bustling service sector—by selling coal to the world...But now Australia is buckling under the conditions that its fossil fuels have helped bring about."
The reality is the political is personal. Thing is, with the issue of global politics, where does one even begin? I am not going to list out all that is going on because it would read and sound like a science fiction story out of control. And what is fanning those flames is the onslaught of "fake news". As reported in the UK's Sunday Times, according to an MIT report, "fake news spreads six times faster than accurate news." In the article, Tristan Harris, a former Google insider and now seen as the "conscience" of Silicon Valley, quoted Harvard Professor Edward Wilson who said, "The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology." Or as Harris coins it, "we're chimps with nukes."
All this information, and the demands placed on us to feed the machine regardless of who we are and what we do (either as part of our work or being part of a social fabric), it's no wonder we feel on the edge of burnout. We are living in an age where so many of us are facing an existential crisis, one that is made all the more desperate because of a bombardment of information coming to us in the form of social media. So many of us are finding the need to redefine who we are, what we value, and how we see our lives unfolding because the current pace is making our lives unhealthy and unsustainable. And that questioning is a good thing. It's what Megan Hellerer calls the "WTF Am I Doing With My Life?" syndrome, it's also what she calls her online course focusing on redirecting the way we think about our lives, both professional and personal. Her approach takes what she calls a "directional" path rather than a "destinational" path. The super successful life and career coach is helping some of the most accomplished women find their true power, the power to help them find their most authentic selves. Hellerer's success rate is seen through her clients, one of whom is the straight-shooting American Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
What this all means and what we are finding, is that the world needs new models. Hellerer is showing women new models of thinking. For new models in business, we can turn to the experience and expertise of Jimmy Iovine. In an interview with The New York Times, the former head of Interscope Records, co-founder of Beats headphones, and the man who, along with Dr. Dre helped to establish Apple Music, shares his insights from what he has learned, especially in the last decade, mainly, being true to oneself especially as an artist, is needed evermore so today. He remembers artists from the 60s and 70s who responded to the times with their songs about war and peace. That's what he says he wants the uber influential singers and songwriters to reflect upon saying:
"Make quality the priority, not speed. Speed is marketing, but you have to have something great to market. If you don't want to be disposable, take care of the art."
Iovine also learned that we must be humble enough to continuing learning, accept that we don't know everything, and be open to new ideas instead of sticking our heads in the sand ignoring the momentum of change.
Then there is the need for change in models, literally. I read a wonderful piece in AnOther Magazine about model Smita Losrado and her business partner and stylist Nikhil Dudani who are showing the fashion industry how vast and varied Indian faces can be, opening up a world of opportunity not just for brands to wise up and include different faces in their campaigns, but also for models of all sexes, orientations, and skin colour to know that they have a place in this world to be celebrated for who they are. Losrado says:
“Working with international castings, I’ve noticed how homogeneous the idea of Indian beauty has been for a really long time. The way it’s portrayed, it’s all about a girl with dark long hair, middle parting, rounded features, big eyes... But India has such genetic variety, from people in the south whose skin looks almost blue to tall, light-skinned people in the north and some regions where the population looks very Southeast Asian. Representing all these different groups is extremely important to us, especially considering this is a country where entire communities are marginalised on the basis of skin colour. We want people to know that they are accepted and beautiful and that they have a platform."
What has become clear is that the world needs more and not materially as Instagram would have you think and believe. We need substance. That is what the world is craving. Meaning. Maybe that insight comes with age. While it is natural to feel overwhelmed, I take comfort in knowing that as I get older, the more I want to learn as much as I can about the new ways of the world and figure out how I can be of service to make it a better, kinder, mentally and emotionally healthier place to live. I have redefined success for me. Perhaps age gives us the freedom and perspective to be open to life's beauty and worry about things that don't deserve our energy. Because despite what we are feeling today, there is so much beauty around us. Just ask Nigella Lawson who writes about just that as she celebrates her 60th birthday this year. She says:
"Ageing is nearly always portrayed as a closing down of opportunities: I now see the rest of my life as a great unfurling mystery. For the past three decades, as I grew up, established a career, had children and so on, I pretty much knew what the shape of my life would be, day to day. Now I feel that anything could happen. I’m happy with my life as it is, happier than I thought I would be from the anxious vantage point of my twenties, but now I feel so much more open to anything and everything. And that’s a wonderful way to walk into the future."
Indeed it is. And it's certainly a much healthier frame of mind as we head into the "Roaring 20s"