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Flourishing in Flux: Reclaiming Wellbeing, Potential, Fulfillment, and Success in a Shifting World

My book, The Flourishing Effect outlines various strategies for organizations to create thriving ecosystems in which the business prospers because people can do the best work of their lives. In my next book, I'm tackling the individual side of things and what we can each do to move beyond surviving, to thriving in this new world colored by diminishing levels of well-being and satisfaction, technological disruptions, accelerating change, and growing economic and environmental uncertainty. I’m finding it comes down to a few key factors, including reconnecting with our true selves, owning our sovereignty, reclaiming our humanity, and actualizing our full potential to make the impact we were meant to make on the world. 

Reconnecting with our true selves: In modern life, amid societal expectations, economic pressures, and digital distractions, it's easy to lose sight of our true selves and then wake up one day and realize we never lived life on our terms (the top regret of the dying by the way). However, the path to flourishing begins with peeling back layers of conditioning and projections from others, to reveal who we are at our core, as well as our highest values, passions, and aspirations. This reconnecting with our inner GPS provides the guidance to navigate uncertainty and the discernment to see through deep fakes, media hype, and the broader social veil. In a recent article, I discussed several practices to do this, including cultivating self-awareness, mindfulness, and honing your intuition. 

Owing our sovereignty:  Operating from our true self and living authentically requires courage, resilience, and a willingness to challenge established norms. This will come in handy as we enter a new era marked by the dissolution of traditional institutions, patriarchal constructs, and various societal structures. Going forward, it will be up to each of us to take command of our destinies by exercising autonomy and agency in crafting our journey toward personal growth, fulfillment, and success. 

Reclaiming our humanity: Amidst our modern world of technological advancements, hustle culture, and wearing busyness as a badge of honor, we must prioritize our fundamental human needs for well-being and connection if we want to thrive in the long term.

  • Wellbeing -  We're all familiar with the airline safety instructions urging us to secure our own oxygen masks before assisting others, yet many of us struggle with feelings of guilt or the perception that self-care is a luxury we can't afford. Here's the deal: prioritizing oneself isn't selfish; it's essential for effectively supporting those around us. Operating from a place of depletion, resentment, and burnout, isn’t helping anyone. We can all feel it. However, replenishing our well-being first fills our cup and creates an overflow to share with others. As a bonus, modeling this behavior inspires others to do the same. Whether through stress management techniques, setting boundaries, wellness practices, quality sleep habits, or engaging in activities that simply bring us joy, investing in ourselves enables us to contribute more meaningfully to our roles, those in our lives, and the world around us.

  • Connection - The past several decades have shown a concerning rise in loneliness and feelings of disconnection. Rather than cultivating genuine bonds, we settle for superficial interactions such as swiping through dating apps or endlessly scrolling through social media feeds. Our fixation on productivity and efficiency often overshadows the potential for meaningful connections and a deeper engagement with the world, leading to a sense of dissatisfaction and mundane existence. We can address this by finding communities aligned with your values and goals (shout out to my new fave, @techwalk), getting curious, showing interest in others, and allowing serendipity to unfold by being open and receptive to whatever and whoever crosses your path on a given day.

Actualizing our full potential: Drawing from Nietzsche's assertion that all things are in a state of "ontological privation," in which they long to become more than they are, we recognize a collective longing for growth and advancement. 

  • Resilience - From an evolutionary perspective, humans are inherently driven to progress and adapt. In the earlier days of our ancestors, overcoming challenges occurred on the daily because life was difficult and involved heroic efforts and discomfort just to survive. Fortunately, the majority of humanity today enjoys unprecedented comfort and convenience. Yet, within this era of ease, a paradox emerges: our lives of luxury seem to foster a silent crisis of fragility. The very amenities that provide comfort, such as cars, climate-controlled environments, food delivery, and digital screens, also shield us from the physical and emotional challenges necessary for building resilience. Resilience, cultivated through exposure to discomfort and adversity, strengthens our capacity to adapt and flourish in the face of life's trials. To counteract modern fragility and stagnation, it behooves us to intentionally seek out discomfort and challenge. Simple strategies for this include intermittent fasting, cold exposure, sauna sessions, high-intensity interval training, digital detoxification, meditation, sitting with boredom (my Achilles heel), having difficult conversations proactively, and raising our hand for the next big opportunity at work. By regularly subjecting ourselves to such experiences, we exercise and fortify our resilience muscles, thereby making life's obstacles more manageable and enhancing our overall well-being.

  • Growth - As Oprah aptly said, everyone wants to fill the highest and truest expression of themselves. Each of us possesses unique skills, talents, expertise, and experiences waiting to be unleashed upon the world. One of the reasons for the pervasive sense of apathy in our contemporary affluent society is the lack of inspiration and compelling challenge. As a result, many remain unfulfilled and fail to reach their full potential. This creates a loss of meaning described by Viktor Frankl as an existential vacuum. We see this in the rise of “rust out”, the growing sense of feeling underutilized and under stimulated at work. This can be attributed, in part, to workplace structures inherited from the Industrial Revolution, in which the work was stripped of creativity, ownership, and meaning to prioritize efficiency. Whether shedding the constraints of our former selves, pursuing ambitious objectives, or embarking on daring new experiences, each forward stride progresses us toward a heightened existence. Realizing our full potential demands embracing a growth mindset, a commitment to lifelong learning, and the courage to venture beyond the confines of our comfort zones.

  • Accessing higher capabilities - As we navigate the future, harnessing our higher, human capabilities will be critical in propelling us toward greater fulfillment and success. A powerful strategy is to engage the right hemisphere of the brain. This enables us to embrace a wider viewpoint and tap into inventive solutions and intuitive understandings, unlocking profound capacities like creativity, intuition, holistic cognition, emotional intelligence, imagination, mindfulness, and accelerated learning. We can do this through mindfulness rituals, fully immersing ourselves in the present moment, communing with nature, practicing spontaneity, and exploring activities we enjoy just for the sake of them.

Making the impact we’re meant to make:  Both Maslow's hierarchy of needs and Viktor Frankl's concept of a will to meaning underscore our intrinsic drive to transcend our own self-interests and seek fulfillment through altruistic deeds, creative expression, contribution to society, and being part of something larger than ourselves. When we channel our talents, experiences, and passions toward serving a greater cause, we become agents of positive change in the world. The beauty is that this symbiotic relationship creates a mutually beneficial dynamic: as we focus on others, we concurrently fulfill our own human needs for meaning, purpose, and connection. Whether through our professional endeavors, creative pursuits, or acts of service, each of us has the power to leave a lasting legacy that transcends our small place in the grand scheme of things. 

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