Change brings incredible opportunity

It was more than a quarter of a century ago when Alvin Toffler confirmed our fears about the future in a best-selling book called “Future Shock.”
Toffler didn’t create the future. He just outlined in detail for us what we were already beginning to sense.
Change would be the name of the game in our personal tomorrows. What none of us, including Toffler, could have ever suspected is how incredibly rapid and tumultuous that change would become.
We all knew the history of the agricultural age that had given way to the industrial age. Now, said Toffler, the industrial age was beginning to give way to the information age.
The big computers would become personal computers. Slow communications would be replaced by instant communication. Money would be made by exchanging information, rather than goods.
The global map would be reshaped and a global economy would be formed. Our lives would be automated beyond belief.
I recall that it was both a threatening and an exciting future that Toffler promised in 1970. One with incredible opportunity and yet with soul-threatening risk. A future in which the nature of work would be transformed, and family would be redefined.
Since 1970, Toffler and his wife, Heidi, have continued to hold the hands of common men and presidents, leading us gently through the changes as they see them unfolding. Helping us understand how to deal with an immensely changing future.
But I, personally, remember best the advice from Toffler’s very first best-seller. It’s been years since I’ve looked at the book but I’ve often applied the wisdom in the decades since.
Future shock would happen to all of us, warned Toffler. An unprecedented speed of change would leave us reeling. It would be important, he warned, to counteract some of the change by providing stability in our own lives and refusing to let some things change.
Even by so simple a thing, said Toffler, as keeping an old familiar car.
That was good advice in 1970–and it’s even better advice now.
It would be easy to give in to despair in a world like ours. But that’s only if we fail to look beneath the surface for the things that never change.
One hundred years ago, a smart philosopher named William James said, “Do not be afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”
That’s one of the truths that never changes, and William James would no doubt have said the same thing if he had lived today.
True, change does bring threat and challenge but it also brings incredible opportunity. Opportunity beyond anything your parents and grandparents could have imagined. Including a longer life span to take advantage of that opportunity.
We can be afraid of life in the late 20th century if we choose to. Or we can believe that life is worth living, and that belief will help us create the fact.
Another futurist, John Naisbitt, closed his best-selling “Megatrends” with a reflection on how easy it is to live in a stable era when “everything has a name and everything knows its place.”
That isn’t our lot. But, says Naisbitt, in a time like ours, we have extraordinary opportunity if we can only get a clear sense of the road ahead.
So think about it as you look toward 1998. Don’t ever allow yourself to give in to fear of change. Believe in the opportunities of our decade, and believe in your ability to maximize those opportunities.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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