Book Review: Ten Survival Skills for a World in Flux
To thrive in the twenty-first century, we all need to understand the challenges coming our way. And adapting, now.
This was my February deep dive read to learn more – practical, timely and interesting brain food on 21st century issues and the future skills to help us navigate, adapt and thrive. It is more about thrive than survive – which is a good thing because there is nothing aspirational about aiming to be at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!
WOW Tom Fletcher has had an interesting career so far! Tom is a former UK ambassador to Lebanon and foreign policy adviser to three prime ministers. With expertise from his work at the highest levels of international politics, education, activism and business, he offers a practical manifesto that can help us transform the way we learn, live, and work together.
It is broad in its outlook because of Tom’s diverse experience in politics and education. This makes it more valuable and realistic because the challenges we face do not fit neatly into one genre or a tidy narrative. The book, through his wise lens, explores that diversity of topics and thinking we need to adapt. It is timely and very useful in giving you lots of actions you can take now as an individual, including concluding with 39 action steps to boost your survivability (or thrivability if like me, you are an optimist!).
We all recognise there are major, overlapping, global crises ahead of humanity: climate change, mass migration, new warfare, big tech, further pandemics, authoritarian capitalism. He looks at our roles and skills as individuals, within societies and as global citizens to navigate this new terrain.
Rather than be daunted, this book charts a way that we can respond. He considers why, what and how we should educate and learn in the future, how we can use technology without thinking like computers, how we become good ancestors, how to find purpose and allies, how to take back control of our time and how we find the courage to put values at the heart of politics, society and innovation
“Perhaps the greatest danger is posed not by the nuclear bomb, environmental catastrophe, the superbug, the robot age or the crazed terrorist, frightening as they all are. The greatest danger may in fact be the loss of our desire to live together. As we face a period of migration, flux and unpredictability, what are the practical lessons we can draw from politics, philosophy and religion on how to coexist?”
It looks at practical ways to develop the courage we will need … to be tolerant, to be kind, to challenge social injustice and to simply coexist with other people.
This is the really thought provoking bit for me, that I am still pondering – our ability to co-exist or rather historically our inability to! I had not considered it this way – as one of the most significant stumbling blocks to navigating this changing landscape – co-existing with humans and technology. The War in Ukraine and what appears to be our inability to tackle climate change together has made me reflect on the importance of this even more.
I am still considering the role I need to play as a change agent to help, in how I do this well myself and how I take more responsibility as a global citizen. Seeing this in a much broader context than just climate change is a game changer.
It is a manual for humanity and a guidebook for individuals seeking new ways to adapt to changing, challenging and opportunity laden times. Worth a read and then a deep dive skill build to integrate the important bits into the way you do things!