Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations
I really enjoyed reading Thank You for Being Late, by Thomas L. Friedman, the author of The World is Flat. In his latest book, Friedman provides readers with a new set of lenses through which to view the shifting landscape of our time, and in so doing prepares us for the accelerating pace of change we are currently experiencing. Friedman invites us to give ourselves permission to be late sometimes, to dare to linger, slow down observe and take the time to dream about our life, home, workplace, and world.
The Three Forces Transforming the World as We Know It
Friedman writes about “tectonic movements” which he describes as forces that are re-shaping the world today. He exposes three major forces that are blowing through the paradigm we live by: technology, globalization and climate change/loss of biodiversity.
For instance, in 2007, the iPhone was released, forever altering our reality. Friedman identifies this as an “inflection point”. Combined with tremendous advances in cell technology, software, micro-chips and networking, the smartphone has become a new digital reality that is radically transforming how we access services, communicate with each other, travel, work and develop interpersonal connections. It is like a supernova, he writes, an enormous release of energy that can be used in a positive or negative way.
Friedman suggests that these forces are simultaneously accelerating and completely transforming key areas of our lives, such as: ethics, community, workplace, politics and geopolitics. His book offers an alternative way to observe these tectonic movements, to recognize their impact and to soften the landing, so to speak.
Going from Zero to 60 mph in Five Seconds
Friedman believes that what we are experiencing today is similar to being in a fast car that can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in only five seconds. We are used to a linear world, where time, events, and distance pass gradually and develop on a continuum. But the technology revolution of our day is, as he puts it, “on an exponential curve.” The sheer pace of so many changes, happening all at once, can throw us off our equilibrium and we might feel anxious or overpowered. Like the fast car — the radical acceleration might be exciting, even breathtaking for the first five seconds, but after some time it would probably become overwhelming.
It is not about dropping out, but rather pausing. Pausing gives us space within which to reconnect to our inner selves, to reassess who we are, why we are, what we believe and whether we are living our lives accordingly. In the “pause” we have clarity of vision and a better chance to redefine our path to achieve our greatest aspirations.
I had the opportunity to meet Tom Friedman in March of 2015 when he was at the early stages of writing this book. I am excited to see how his book has evolved and the way Friedman has captured the forces at work, the impact, both positive and negative, these forces are starting to have on people and begin to offer some suggestions for how we should manage this period of rapid change.