Positive Outlook: John Sanei on the Future

Lindsay Judge   |   05-11-2020

Where we are at, where we are going and is there enough toilet paper?


When COVID-19 hit, there were four questions that filled our minds in that collective 03:00 AM anxiety: Am I going to make it through this? Do I have enough cash to see me through this? Is my family OK and safe? Do I have enough toilet paper?


This was how we reacted. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs quickly broke itself apart amid the most harrowing pandemic the modern world has ever seen and is still experiencing. We witnessed households latching their doors to protect themselves from the virus, businesses shutting up shop – some for good – our leaders looking ugly and all our relationships showing their hidden cracks. The unravelling of our lives began, and this seems to be how things will stay.


The first aggravator of this discomfort is that, as a species, we have lived our lives for too long measuring our emotions, our successes and our relationships by length and not by depth. Triggered intensely by the needlepoint of The Survivor Consciousness, we are miserable, negative, complacent – and everything is taking too long.


We are starting to realise (but perhaps not yet admitting) that our default is the fight, flight and react, and we have done a pretty good job of detonating our internal and external world because of it. Because we are stuck in the outcome of our consciousness, we find ourselves fighting to be heard, living on adrenaline, counting the days between the days, waiting for it all to be over, and everyone’s calling it “resilience”.


Humanity’s New Hashtag: Resilience


Somewhere between the masks and sanitiser pumps, we have managed to hashtag “resilience” as the way to be, and the key constituent in getting us back to where we were in the great vague “before”.


In doing so, we have deepened the fault lines in our groundedness: expecting things to improve, leaders to lead and the virus to, well, just disappear, so that we can get back to what we were busying ourselves with before March 2020.


But it ain’t happening!

What’s really happening is that we have trapped ourselves in the resilience bubble, measuring our days by how quickly we are able to find our way back.


There is no back. There is only how, now and next.


We are breaking apart because we have lost sight of how to “respond, recover and reimagine”. Many of us are playing in the drama triangles of our lives and not enough in the creator space. Nowhere in this horror story have we witnessed a greater divide than between the optimists, the realists and the pessimists. Each with their own perspectives, and all within their own echo chambers.


I often wonder what would happen if we took a “Possiblist” position? Can we return to a place of possibility? Can we remove “outcome” and “survival” from our mix, and equip ourselves with concrete guidelines to thrive through the challenge; harnessing a society that opts into a less angry, less anxious, more practical, more responsible and more curious way of existing?


We are squarely in the winter of our lives, and fractures are forming between a world divided between right and left with no centre. We should want to mobilise human evolution towards a middle ground, through a mind-and-heart breakthrough – and indeed many of us are seeking to reshape our world from the inside. The question is how? The answer: starting a conversation between the left and right camps.


Courage, curiosity and consciousness


There are no more excuses for broken systems, numbness, side-line coaching or dogmatism. As a collective, we need to fully immerse ourselves in the raw truth of this reality and make a choice; to become a by-product of COVID-19, or to become FutureNEXT activators.


To embrace the latter opportunity, we need to return to courage, curiosity and consciousness. We need to seek out what is real and what is digestible – not a three-month supply of toilet paper. Perhaps it is time we understand that the future is here already, and it is re-shapable; that this reality is not about resilience, nor agility; that in fact, we need to practice responsibility, curiosity and wisdom that is going to take “us” to reimagine it. Because ultimately, we are fractured – but we are not broken.


John Sanei is a futurist. Sanei and economist Iraj Abedian address this theme along with so much more in their new book, FutureNEXT. The book will be launched in Cape Town on 19th November.