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Stefan Ekwall

Understanding Emergence: A Comprehensive Guide

Stefan Ekwall shares some resources for getting to grips with the changes currently being experienced in the world.

Big Picture
Change is the only constant. We are currently living in the midst of one of the biggest changes in the history of humanity, leaving the industrial age of nation states in the dust and entering a new globalised and digitised future.
How we handle this transition will define our future. It all starts with a shift—aligning our individual and collective perspectives of the world with what makes sense and is deeply meaningful to us. What will emerge?
The human condition is changing rapidly due to technological development, globalisation, and environmental changes. The cultural evolution is in high gear. We have immense capabilities as a species, but we currently lack the wisdom and capacity for sense-making and meaning-making to guide our personal and collective choices. Simply put, the outer world is becoming more complex and our inner worlds also need to become more complex in order to make sure that we are well adapted to the emerging landscape.. We need a better understanding of what is going on, new narratives and better tools to navigate.
Understanding the big picture is half the win. Having the wisdom to know what to do with that understanding is the other half. In order for the current transition to be meaningful, peaceful and benefit all of humanity, we need to re-examine assumptions in the currently dominating western worldview and allow ourselves to dream bigger.

Stefan Ekwall facilitating a workshop on New Narratives at the Emerge Gathering in November 2018

GETTING STARTED

This is my way of presenting some very important starting pieces of the emerging puzzle. It’s not a nice little list with a few videos and books—it’s the foundational framework for a worldview that helps us view the world in a distinctly new way. Use it wisely. It may help you see the big picture and contribute to creating something large. Pick the material that you find yourself to be most interested in, but I recommend that you first start with the list in this section and then move deeper into the material as you go.

Tomas Bjorkman at Sime Consciouness 2017 (Video)
Tomas, founder of Ekskäret Foundation, on the big picture of societal change, the emerging paradigm, and how we need to focus more on inner growth and consciousness development in order for us to navigate the transition.

Why Humans Run the World, Yuval Harari (Video)
The historian Harari on how storytelling is the main reason for the rise of humanity, and how nations, companies, religions and money are simply made up subjective concepts in fictional reality. Also, a pointer to what future we’re all heading to.

How to Grow The F Up, Mark Manson (Article)
Why? Edgy title and writing style but a superb introduction to psychological development and what it means in the context of growing up, becoming self-authoring and taking responsibility based on your own personal values rather than instant gratification or other people’s values.

Sovereignty, Jordan Greenhall (Article)
About sovereignty—the capacity to be present and respond to the world, and how to take responsibility and be of service to the whole as a conscious agent.

Emergence, Daniel Schmachtenberger (Video)
On the basic properties of the universe: emergence, complex systems, evolution, consciousness and society. Really cool fireside talk by one of the most influential thinkers today, shedding light on the basic building blocks of reality.

BUILDING A FOUNDATION

In this section, we expand our understanding of the developing mind and on our shared social reality—our “collective imaginary”, through a systems view lens of ourselves and the world. I recommend that you start with the collective first in order to get a better understanding of the bigger picture, and then dive deeper into the sections about being human.

The Collective: New Stories
RSA: 21st Century Enlightenment (Video)
A challenge of the philosophical and cultural foundation that has been the basis of the industrial age, and a proposition for what constitutes the “enlightenment” of this century and beyond.

Changing Education Paradigms, Sir Ken Robinson (Video)
A critical look at our schooling system and how we need to change the way we think about it, based on new knowledge of humans, creativity and learning.

The Collective: History, Technology and Society
The Artificial Intelligence Revolution, Tim Urban (Article)
Long but absolutely brilliant post on AI, exponential technological development and what that means for all of us—extinction or immortality.

Burning Man (Video)
Burning Man is arguably the most interesting cultural experiment in the world today. It is about co-creating a completely different collective imaginary, and living and participating inside it for a week. An annual event and a large playground built on principles of radical self-expression, participation and gifting, to name a few. It embodies the new story in an artful, spiritual and honest way. Experience is everything, but this video might reveal some of the magic.

Being Human: Ego Development
How to Be an Adult, Natali Morad (Article)
A condensed summary of Robert Kegan’s five developmental levels and what they mean. Somewhat simplified but a good introduction to a fairly hairy area.

Being Human: Motivation
What Is Self-Determination Theory? Kendra Cherry (Article)
A quick introduction to the theory of what guides human motivation.
The Puzzle of Motivation, Dan Pink (Video)
Self Determination Theory, a unifying theory of human motivation—why we do what we do. Daniel Pink popularised parts of the theory. It’s somewhat simplified but a good starting point.

Being Human: The Brain and Mind
The Riddle of Experience vs Memory, Daniel Kahneman (Video)
On how we humans are split into two selves: the experiencing self and the remembering, story-telling self – two distinctly different systems, and how this relates to success and happiness.
The Divided Brain, Iain McGilchrist (Video)
Short but important introduction to how the brain is profoundly divided, who really is the master and the servant, and how false assumptions have dramatically shaped our world.
The Open Mind, Daniel Siegel (Article)
An expanded definition of the mind as both embodied and relational, beyond the limitations of only the brain. It helps answering the age-old question of who we are, and gives insight to the power of sensing, experiencing and observing.

Being Human: Presence, Self-Reflection and Learning
The Power of Vulnerability, Brené Brown (Video)
Funny and serious, Brown shows the powerful research on how connecting deeper with yourself gives you access to much more of life and your potential. One of the most powerful and insightful TED Talks available.
Mindfulness over Matter, Ellen Langer (Video)
An entertaining and powerful talk on mindlessness and the effects of being present. Most of our suffering is the direct or indirect effect of mindlessness. We need to challenge the idea that the limits we assume are real must exist, adopting a radically different view of mind(fulness) over matter.

GOING DEEPER

Going even deeper, we look at societal development, the lifelong development of the mind and what truly motivates us as humans. Some of these concepts are longer and a bit more heavy than the ones in the previous section, but provides you with a more nuanced understanding.

The Collective: New Stories
21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Harari (Video)
It takes a historian to make sense of the present and prepare for the future. Emotional intelligence, mental stability and compassion are competencies needed in order to survive and thrive in an uncertain future where AI and automation challenges our ways of creating meaning.
The Boom Equation, Hanzi Freinacht, Metamoderna (Article)
Times they are a changin' and its faster than ever. Technological and cultural change is moving towards a point of no return, a "boom", and we need to be vastly more prepared for it than we currently are. This is a good description of our time and an introduction to the metamodern view of self, society and the world.

The Collective: History, Technology and Society
The Generator Functions of Existential Risks, Daniel Schmachtenberger (Podcast)
What happens when we multiply win-lose games with exponential technology? Going deeper into the matter of existential risks and the underlying generator functions threatening humanity, and how we can solve them.

Being Human: Ego Development
Summary of Robert Kegan’s Model of Adult Development, David Chapman (Article)
Another and more extensive summary of Robert Kegan’s developmental levels and what they mean in different contexts such as work, relationships and life in general.
Wikipedia, Developmental Psychology (Article)
A good starting point for going deeper into the area of psychological development.
Wikipedia, Transformative Learning (Article)

Being Human: Motivation
Wikipedia, Self-Determination Theory (Article)
The condensed version with many pointers towards further reading.

Being Human: The Brain and Mind
The Divided Brain and the Unmaking of Our World, Iain McGilchrist (Video)
A more extensive description of the divided brain and how one side of it has shaped our external world and created a less empathetic and fragmented society.
The Basis of the Mind, Daniel Siegel (Video)
Enlightening talk on what constitutes health and integration—the neurological basis of behaviour, the mind, the brain and human relationships. A definition of the mind as "an embodied and relational emergent process" beyond just the internal processes of the brain itself.

Being Human: Presence, Self-Reflection and Learning
Deep Code, Jordan Greenhall (Podcast)
What deep code of being human is, how it works, and how we can use it to construct new systems. The basic cycle of learning that can be applied to anything we do, which is crucial for increasing our capacity to navigate today’s world and design a new viable civilization.

BOOKS

If you want to emerge yourself in the ideas, here is a list of really good books. The list is of course in no way exhaustive, but is a good starting point for future exploration.

The Collective: New Stories
Världen vi skapar, Tomas Björkman (Book)
A more extensive look on the big picture and consciousness development. Parts 2 and 3 are especially important. Written in Swedish. An English edition will be available in June, 2019
Sapiens, Yuval Harari (Book)
Provides clarity of the humanity’s narrative of creation and evolution, exploring the ways in which biology and history have shaped our understanding of what it means to be "human". Who or what do we want to become?

The Collective: History, Technology and Society
Connected, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler (Book)
Sums up the groundbreaking research on how we are all connected to each other and how we profoundly influence one another's tastes, health, wealth, happiness, beliefs, even weight, which has far-reaching consequences for the individual as a separate and self-directed entity.

Being Human: Ego Development
Immunity to Change, Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey (Book)
The first three chapters is a good starting point into the area of ego development. The rest of the book is about overcoming the inherent resistance to change which is closely tied to our assumptions and may block us from developing.
An Everyone Culture, Robert Kegan (Book)
A great summary of both the Kegan levels of growth, how people get stuck in growing due to needs colliding and big assumptions and how the greatest work environments in the world work with values.
Originals, Adam Grant (Book)
How to strengthen your self-authorship and reject conformity by recognizing good ideas, speaking up, building a coalition of allies, choosing the right time to act, and managing fear and doubt.

Being Human: Motivation
Drive, Daniel Pink (Book)
Self Determination Theory, a unifying theory of human motivation—why we do what we do. Daniel Pink popularised parts of the theory, but this book is good for getting a deeper understanding.
Why We Do What We Do, Edward Deci (Book)
More research-heavy than Drive, but more extensive and directly from the horse’s mouth—Edward Deci is one of the initiators of the research field.

Being Human: Presence, Self-Reflection and Learning
Mindset, Carol Dweck (Book)
One of the most influential books in the topic of cognitive learning and mastery. A unique insight into how the developmental mind and how mindset, whether we think about ourselves and our abilities as fixed or growing, dramatically influences how we develop and master these abilities.
Mindfulness, Ellen Langer (Book)
Highly innovative findings of Dr. Langer and her team on mindfulness. The book outlines some exciting applications to work with in your own practice.
The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris (Book)
The way most of us go about trying to find happiness ends up making us miserable, driving stress, anxiety, and depression. The book presents the ACT methodology – clarifying your values and developing mindfulness in everyday life.

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Words by Stefan Ekwall
Thought leader in the intersection of humanity and technology. Dreaming of living in a more authentic, conscious and anti-fragile society consisting of compassionate, connected and purposeful agents.