This week I coincidently rolled into a “Society 3.0” Monday Meetup, organised by Seats2Meet. Plenary I listened to talks about new business models and sharing economies, while through interpersonal conversations my talks evolved around conscious living and personal development. These two appeared quite separate from each other during this day, while there are so many interconnections as well. And why do I experience entrepreneurship that is about changing the world, separate from my personal journey as a conscious being intending to live my life from my heart? In this blog I want to explore those interconnections and shed light on how my personal and spiritual dynamics translate to working with organisations that are shaping the new economy and the society 3.0.
The main talk was all about new forms of organisation and entrepreneurship that make most of today’s established companies and structures quickly become obsolete. Think Airbnb and CouchSourfing, today’s largest hotel chains. Zipcar, MyWheels and Blabla Car, that make owning or buying a car a thing of the past. And other concepts you probably have heard of like Etsy, Bitcoin, ThuisAfgehaald (NL) and many more. Key words are a collaborative -and interdependent economy, sharing over owning, peer-2-peer and decentralised organisation. Ronald van den Hoff, the founder of Seats2Meet, tells us that in five years many aspects of our society will already have changed beyond today’s imagination. Retail stores are passé, the euro will have collapsed, services that still belong to banks today will be taken over by independent apps and organisations, and our governments will suffer a financial implosion due to a big change in how economic value will be created. Social capital, alternative currencies, exchanges and credit systems are all forms of economic value that no longer add money to a country’s national product.
I did want to include a brief overview of some of the changes that are entailed in the Society 3.0. Yet, I was surprised that only the exterior manifestations of these changes were presented during the Monday Meetup. How about the internal changes that happen within these organisations on how people collaborate and organisational structures change? And the personal processes individuals go through in the midst of flexible and multi-purpose working environments? There is an obvious mirror for results that we see on the outside, that also are a reflection for how we change inside. For me this day was a continuous succession of serendipitous connections. It started with one of the organisers who approached me in panic while I was working on my web development, asking whether I had any experience with filming. The person who was going to film the masterclass that afternoon was not able to come. The serendipity machine, which is Seats2Meet’s competence platform and networking tool, displays all people present at its locations with their skills (social capital) on an online platform. I wasn’t able to do the filming myself, but I did manage to go through the network of people present at the Seats2Meet Utrecht locations and contact a guy with skills in film, art and design. 10 minutes later I received a message that he was willing to help out and would go and pick up all his filming equipment. That was a great last minute safer for the conference and a beautiful example of how Seats2Meet works. For me it was a spontaneous invitation to attend the conference, which I had not heard about until that point.
With all the established companies and structures disappearing, also the people who work for them are thrown upon themselves. Today it has become rare to find a steady job with a single employer that offers a long perspective for the future. Instead self-employed people are appearing at a rapid rate, a movement that I am part of myself. It does require a complete different mindset, to work comfortably on your own, not knowing whether you will earn enough to come by each month and what you will be doing the next month. I personally cannot imagine a better way than letting every day and week unfold as it does. I did (and still do) go through an extensive personal journey, in which I was able to completely let go of all the structures I had found myself in. First it was a form of ‘unschooling’, letting go of the academic and abstracted perspectives on the world that are the reality of any student studying at university. I had to realise that there is more to life after university than a career and an academic pursue. I spend a summer playing with kids in nature and worked a year with rare fruit trees in the jungle of Panama. After several more hands on projects, I also became curious to what it would be like to go back to a city life. Here I find myself now, working as a freelance web developer at Seats2Meet, where the world is also changing rapidly. It is an interesting balancing act to work in an office environment and to continue feeling the freedom and the connection with the natural world through physical work. I now work one or two days a week pruning fruit trees in old apple orchards, to find that balance.
During the afternoon I had a surprising number of conversations with people who have taken their personal conscious development as the drive behind the work they do and the interests they pursue, for example in transforming education. After the main talk by Ronald we had a small group discussion on life long learning. We all shared our experiences on how we learn, where intrinsic motivation was the common denominator and the public school system the source of all evil. Education by the all-knowing teacher is frighteningly outdated in a world where vast quantities of information are directly available at our fingertips. Being told what we have to learn class by class, also is the muffler of the intrinsic motivation of any child that naturally likes to explore and learn, when given the right circumstances. And the last thing that would be addressed at institutionalised schools, is the personal growth that children, adolescences and adults go through and need to grow in life. For example learning about the ancient wisdoms on existentialism and putting these directly in practice in our daily lives.
The organiser who had approached me earlier about the filming, came back to me the end of the day to tell me how well it had all unfolded, totally in accordance to the theme of the day. From talking about synchronicity, we rolled into the deep personal growth she has been going through working for a Society 3.0 type of organisation. It required letting go of any previous conceptions on how things work and have been done, to be able to keep up with the changing dynamics of organisations that respond instantly to people’s and society’s changing nature. It is the singularity of the intrinsic changes we experience in our personal journeys that unfold parallel to the extrinsic forms organisations evolve into. When you don’t keep up with the zeitgeist, the world can quickly turn quite grim and overwhelming. This is exactly the part Ronald unfortunately missed in his presentation, to reach out a hand to people into a rapidly changing society, where turning inwards and conscious living are the means to find a new place for yourself in society. Remaining stuck in the consciousness of a world that is based on securities and predictability, results in loosing yourself being jobless and becoming a victim of your circumstances. It is especially in these changing times of society 3.0 that connecting to your authentic self with the passion and skills you have, becomes your unique differentiation and competitive advantage (also an outdated concept).
For myself I don’t find it easy yet to find a form of entrepreneurship that matches with my personal conscious development. For a few years I have been interested in decentralised food chains that facilitate direct producer-consumer exchanges. During some of the conversations I had about new business models and alternative economies, I mentioned my plan for a web-based farmer’s market. Interestingly enough I did not feel comfortable with the responses of some of the entrepreneurs to my business idea. The first thing they told me was to talk to an investor and just give it a go, because “most start-ups fail anyway”. Yet, I feel that for a new type of business, also a larger group of people is necessary who are in co-creation with each other. Especially for something like a local food network that is essentially a network of people, a synchronistic approach is necessary to make it a success for all the parties involved and the business as a whole. Society 3.0 expects businesses to be truly in service of people, instead of trying to create a demand for a product to make business for the sake of business. The shifting consciousness of people has become less tolerant of organisations that act fully out of profit maximisation at any social or environmental cost. Those companies are now starting to face their challenges, even Facebook.
Part of all the technological innovation, is that we continue to find possibilities outside ourselves, that we as humans are also capable of creating by ourselves with our innate abilities. A serendipity machine is a great tool, yet my most inspiring connections with people happen in an elevator, at lunch or through an unexpected conversation. These ‘coincidental’ encounters become stronger when I am also feeling in tune, creating a flow that opens up possibilities I didn’t even know existed before. That is a power of creation that no longer follows the traditional rules of logic and limited possibilities, but creates a unique set of potentials that were impossible to have been foreseen by our mind. Living from the heart unleashes a reality of unlimited possibilities, in which I am guided by faith that the right things appear on my path for me to take the next steps. The downside of these mechanisms are that when I am not in connection with myself, only few fruitful opportunities appear in my life that make me feel like time is not moving forward. Or you get stuck in a loop of being unemployed and keep missing the self-confidence to change your mindset to stand up for who you are and what you are capable of.
Society 3.0 is a mirror for how our environment is changing rapidly into directions that fully question what used to be taken for granted. The same is true for our personal lives, in which personal growth and self-awareness are necessary to move along with our societal changes. Looking at it from the other side, the changes in organisations probably wouldn’t happen without the changes in consciousness of the people that make up these organisations. Society is us and we are in motion. Perhaps not all of us, but the movement that Society 3.0 shows is happening, also shows that many of us are and it is going to become harder and harder for those who are staying behind. Step out of your comfort zone, choose to live and embrace the changes that come with it. Let’s be Society 3.0!
Illustration credits to www.consciousreporter.com