To be human is to ponder the future.
Is your nonprofit pondering your future, or are you just sitting back and letting it happen?
A recent New York Times article, Why We Need to Pick Up Alvin Toffler’s Torch, struck me as being eminently applicable to nonprofits. Toffler, who died last week at the age of 87, wrote presciently in 1970 of a sickness he called “future shock.” Too many nonprofits, and nonprofit workers, are in the throes of this malady.
I hope you’ll keep reading, because I’m about to reveal something personal. Future shock is real.
Future shock is a paralyzing disease.
“unless intelligent steps are taken to combat it, millions of human beings will find themselves increasingly disoriented, progressively incompetent to deal rationally with their environments.”
It’s easy to chalk “future shock” up to a metaphorical description of what ensues when folks have difficulty dealing with new things. But it’s much more authentic than that. It’s a real psychological malady.
TMI Alert: On a personal note, I know future shock is real because I’ve suffered from it. It’s why I’ve been shouting to anyone who will listen that nonprofit fundraising and marketing has changed more in the past seven years or so than in the preceding 50. The accelerating pace of technological change is taking a rapid toll on the workforce; you can’t ignore this elephant in the room! When you have to learn a lot of new skills at once… when what once worked no longer does… when you feel you can barely keep pace with best practices… when people suggest you adopt a new strategy that you barely understand… it can be dizzying. And I was dizzy! And sometimes light-headed and faint. I thought I had a brain tumor (okay, I confess to a bit of neuroticism). And I wanted answers! So I had an MRE. A CT scan. Saw physicians. Went to bio-feedback. To yoga. Did breathing exercises. Finally saw a psycho-therapist. And, guess what? There was, thankfully, nothing physically wrong with me. I just needed to take charge and get a grip.