The World Turned Upside Down
Written by Brian E. Whitaker
Did the world turn upside down?
After all, this morning, we’ve been shocked, elated, terrorized, and thrilled – depending on our political persuasions.
The world woke up and heard that a former reality TV show host and mediocre real estate developer, Donald Trump, is, in the United States, our new President-Elect.
Let’s face facts. An admitted political newcomer, an opportunist, someone who can’t seem to stay on task for more than a few minutes — can soon launch the world’s largest nuclear arsenal or meddle with one of the largest economies.
If you live outside the U.S., you’re probably heading to the bar for twelve stiff drinks.
Why? American predictability, stability, world order – boom!
But even in the U.S., nearly 50 million of us are walking around in a daze, shocked to our cores, hungover from last night – and looking forward to many more hangovers to come. All the old assumptions – about Trump, about Clinton, about media, about campaigns, about left vs. right – seem to have been left to the history books.
But none of us should be surprised.
I’m certainly not.
I’ve been seeing the signs of great chaos in MY life, just under the surface.
For starters, name for me a single technology company that’s not in upheaval due to new competition, new complexity, and new pressures. In my admittedly small business, in the past year, all but two of my clients have been acquired, merged, purchased by private equity, or closed.
Why? Because in technology, everyone is being disrupted, endlessly, constantly. Companies are being pecked endlessly by ducks. Even Oracle. Even IBM. Even Apple.
My health insurer, along with four others, have exited the individual health plan market here in Texas, leaving me with the painful choice of picking an insurer that’s known to be incompetent, or one that will cost me an additional $4700 next year.
Why? Because, due to new pressures, the old rules for making money in healthcare just don’t work.
A huge company, one of the bulwarks of our local economy, recently admitted that they’re down to 11,000 local employees, from 30,000 four years ago.
Why? Because the middle class is being hollowed out, replaced by temps and freelancers and outsourcing and automation.
What’s the end result of all this? People – citizens – family and friends – are being disrupted, constantly, endlessly, without respite or relief.
And that’s why Trump won.
He won because, in politics as well as in business, the old mindsets aren’t giving us the answers we need.
Organizational stability? Nope.
Healthcare accessibility? Nope.
Career opportunity? Nope.
Trust in government…?
We’ve been living in a land in which the answers we’ve accepted seem to be failing us. So, many of us, in an attempt to find answers, elected someone who wants to blow up the old world order and give us new cause for hope.
But we’re not alone in this.
In country after country, from Brexit to the far-left coalition in Greece, from the political and social disasters in Venezuela and Brazil, President Duerte in the Philippines and God knows what else, countries are dealing with a populace who is, to be frank, sick and tired of the old stories. Those old stories have been sold for decades by the political elite, the media, education systems, religion, and just about any institution that’s backward looking.
But people know when they’re being had. The old stories don’t work. The people demand new approaches – and tend to elect someone who promises a new way forward.
If Trump bad for the country? Time will tell. But for those who are shocked and horrified, I have a consolation. None of this is new, or news.
I used the image above (taken from a broadside published in the 1640s) to point out that upheaval is a fact of life. It’s happened a thousand times in the history of humanity, from the Toba catastrophe bottleneck to the Great Recession of 2008.
Sure, about 50 million of us in the United States are deeply worried, seriously concerned, and I’m one of them. Issues of race and gender and simple liberal democracy seem to be under unprecedented pressure. Though I’m a privileged white male, I’m not discounting the worry and tension so many people of color, LGBT folks, and women feel at this daunting experience.
But I have to put this in perspective. We haven’t been invaded. We don’t have the Black Death. And we aren’t extinct.
It’s natural to be afraid. After all, somebody has been elected who seems to embody the worst parts of our culture. In this, our assumptions about who we are and what we’re doing are being uprooted, one after another. That’s always frightening.
So what’s to be done? What do we do in these circumstances?
I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I’m focusing on what I can control or influence, and I’m sticking to my goals, not to my methods.
Whether I like these changes isn’t important because they are what they are. I can’t control or influence them. What is important is that I keep pursuing my aims.
I’m here to do good work.
I’m here to keep my clients happy.
I’m here to build my business and launch my other business.
I’m here to finish writing my book.
I’m here to keep my family clothed, fed, housed, and enriched with good experiences.
I’m here to help others in my community, especially those who are fragile or feel insecure.
I’m here to learn and grow and thrive as a person.
I’m here to stand up for what’s right.
Those are things I can control.
Here’s a fact of life. Circumstances always change, bad stuff always happens, and the world is always turned upside down. This election is just a strong reminder that, even when the world is turned upside down, victory goes to those of us who adapt while sticking to their goals.
Treat this as a wake-up call. It’s time to shake up your assumptions, your beliefs, and your approaches. The old world order is being pushed out. Will you go with it, or will you grow and thrive?
I can’t speak for you, of course, but I’ll tell what I’m going to do about this.
I’m going to drink more coffee.
And then I’m going to go implement new methods for being successful by doing the right things — starting with this post.
Why? Because I have a moral center, as you do. Being successful — despite the storm — is what’s right for me, and my kids, and my community.
I hope you’ll focus on doing what’s right for you, and not let this get you down.
Brian E Whitaker is a marketing strategist for cloud, IoT, and SaaS. He’s the founder and CEO of Zettabyte Content, LLC. Email [email protected] to get in touch.