Using your creative mindset to survive this Economic and Social Earthquake

How to Survive an Economic and Cultural Earthquake

This post was updated on January 5, 2021.

It was so obvious. How many times have we said that after the fact? How many times in retrospect was it obvious that all the information that we needed was right there in front of our nose? How many times did our intuition correctly see a pattern evolving that we ignored?

And here we sit watching our predicted scenario unfold. How does this happen? Well, it isn’t just you. It is part of the human condition. The good news is, we can retrain our brain to be more proactive rather than just reactive after the fact.

If you haven’t already done so, please review my blog “Extreme Events“. In this blog we start a methodology of training our brain to constantly look for subtle clues that can trigger low risk and low cost actions. By creating this action checklist, we are able to start early and continue behaviors that match unfolding events.

The world has changed dramatically. Will we return to normal? Will this trigger a post-apocalyptic world? Will equities regain their all-time highs? Will we go into a depression? Can the government pay off all the debt it has monetized? Will this epidemic shake out all the rot in the economy so we can expand from a firm foundation? How will cultural norms change? What will happen politically? Who will be the winners and losers?

We cannot predict with any certainty the answers to these questions. This is new territory in a complex adaptive system that is self creating on a minute by minute timescale. Much of the future is determined by what people believe will be the future. These beliefs can take big emotional swings. Linear projections are useless.

What we can do is expand our creative mindset. The brain in its natural state does not want to think the unthinkable. So, when the unthinkable becomes reality, our eyes are open to what we missed.

“There’s no use trying,” she (Alice) said: “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” 

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

So, here is an exercise we can do. Please join this group with my compliments. Your registration will give you access to the exercise worksheets and library of reference articles. The point of this exercise is NOT to predict the future but to hold many potential futures, even the “impossible” ones, in our mindset. Once we have the capability of seeing multiple futures, we can notice how beliefs are shifting and how new realities can be created.

Exercise Instructions (Early draft, will be updated in the Creative Mindset dashboard): 

  1. Log in to your online Creative Mindset dashboard 
  2. Go to the “Extreme Events Exercise” section
  3. Follow the link to the Google Docs file folder
  4. Download PDF to chart your responses by hand
  5. Download the Excel file to chart your responses on an Excel Spreadsheet
  6. Copy the Google sheet and paste into your own Google Sheet.

I have filled in my own list, but much better if you create your own list.

  1. What are the major impossible scenarios to bring into our mindset? Create a column for each.
  2. What are the major categories that will be impacted by major economic and cultural scenario shifts? Create a row for each
  3. Rate the impact on each category of the “impossible” scenarios.  The first continuum has a potential of -5 and the second continuum has the potential of a +5.

What is your default bias? Which of these scenarios do you think is the most likely? Is this a long held belief? What is your default future? Is it bleak or optimistic? This exercise can help us see the default biases we bring to our decision process.

The next step is to look at risk mitigation and creative response for each scenario. The fear factor drops significantly if you have visualized a scenario, thought about it ahead of time and see it coming. 

Enjoy the exercise. It might be more fun with a friend or spouse!

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