As one of the ultimate social expressions of the Industrial Age, people have been conditioned to define their entire identities by a single job or profession that they have occupied for the majority of their adult lives. This “gears and cogs” indicator of personal worth and status is so engrained in the public psyche that it has become common practice when being introduced to someone for the first time to ask them, “What do you do for a living?” That question is usually answered with a sweeping characterization: “I’m a doctor.” “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’ve had a 40-year career in talent management for a mega-corporation.” Or maybe you have labored for years under the title of “domestic engineer” – easily the hardest and most underpaid job in existence. Regardless of anyone’s chosen line of work, we were taught to equate an individual’s profession with their identity as a person – the pinnacle of a siloed and mechanistic landscape. However, the emerging Age of Opportunityis radically reinventing the long-held notion that success is defined by arranging our lives into the neat and tiny boxes of work, family, or education. In an age of increasing complexity and ambiguity, linear thinking and simple strategies will no longer work. Our highly interconnected world has created an environment where learning and acting from multiple perspectives has become a critical skill for success across every domain.
Put another way, we must now learn how to think and act in “simultaneous multiples.”