There are often more options than we recognise.
Options are a different kind of intelligence, the kind which says the more options I have the less fragile I am.
Nassim Taleb even suggests: ‘optionality is a substitute for intelligence.’
Options can appear risky to us, though.
Humans are loss averse and perceive par as being the thing to aim for: the one sure thing which will not fail.
Par offers us neatness and tidiness every day: symmetry.
Options are way more untidy, asymmetrical but stronger. Options are the equivalent of using a compass, more useful than reading a map, especially when we reach the edge of the map, or when the road disappears.
Recently, I began on online course with edX – a sign of future learning. For £35 I’m learning about The Science of Happiness with 100,000 others. Something caught my futurist eye. When it comes to the things which determine our happiness, it appears fifty per cent is in our genes – what you might call our baseline happiness. It’s thought, circumstances and events determine about ten per cent of our happiness. This leaves personal choice with forty percent of the determining pie.
I don’t know about you, but forty percent sounds like a lot and I began to wonder how these things might play upon the shaping of our personal futures.*
What if fifty per cent of our future is predictable because of the trends already present in our lives? To this, perhaps ten per cent of our future will be shaped by circumstances and events we cannot predict? What this leaves us with is a whopping forty per cent of our future open to the choices we make?**
Options: a lot of spice to add to the basic recipe.
It’s as scary as it’s exciting because we understand the par we live with every day doesn’t have to be the way it is: there’s more on the other side of par, there’s more off-map than on-map, and there’s more compass about us than we know – caught up in all the things which make it possible for us to produce our art: skills, passions, curiosities, experiences).
More and more, individually and collectively, are exploring what lies beyond par.
(*There are three basic ways of conceiving the future: the expected future through continuing trends, the possible future as a result of events we do or do not know about, and, the preferred future shaped by our choices.)
(**Researchers continue to explore whether the choices and actions we take change us at a genetic level, too.)