Welcome to The Grey Area

Hello and welcome to our new grounds! The Academy of Future Skills officially opened the campus gates and the grounds are now open for the community to build the buildings that we need and the gardens that we seek. From the first idea to the actual ground opening it took me exactly one year. In this year I was considering the idea. Re-considering it. Developing a concept. Throwing that concept out of the window. Come up with another concept. Talking to people. Changing the plan, reconsidering again, changing back to earlier versions, have I mentioned coming up with yet another concept?
The opening date was the day of the March Equinox. Day and Night are about the same length of time and we reach a natural tipping point. The Northern hemisphere is going into longer days, the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing longer nights. Both developments bring other development with them. In the North, we see everything around us flourish. The trees are popping out their green leafs, the vegetables are starting to grow, the temperatures make it way more pleasant to be outside and take the sun in. The Southern hemisphere is saying goodbye to all of that. We see things die. Leafs are falling off, water is freezing and movement comes to a halt. But this is not an irreversible process. Just as we experience the March Equinox, there is another Equinox coming in September, where the processes switch sides. We all go through circles, not all at the same time and not all at the same speed, though.
So this is to New Beginnings and Old Paths, to Learnings from the Past and Experiments with the Future, to Drifting Apart and Coming Back Together. And to Going with the Flow.

From the Gods that I called, Sir, deliver me!

From the Gods that I called, Sir, deliver me!
Lately, I watched the latest Thor movie (”Thor: Love and Thunder”). For those of you who haven’t watched it and intend to do so, don’t worry. What follows only refers to the first 5 minutes of the film in detail, so no big spoilers there.

The film begins with the character introduction of the villain and his life before the actual story. Gorr worships the gods of their universe over the top. He is a very faithful and loyal man. He and his daughter are the last persons of their tribe to be alive and his daughter has fallen terminally ill. So he prays and prays to his God to keep her alive, but despite all his prayers she dies. He ends up meeting the God and finds out: This God doesn’t really care about the people. Instead of meeting this benevolent God he imagined, Gorr is cruelly mocked and strangled instead. Through a God-killing sword that suddenly appears he manages to escape the hold of the God and kill him. The rest of the film is Gorr’s personal revenge quest to kill all the Gods out of that feeling of deep hurt, disappointment and revenge.

So much for the synopsis. So why did I want to talk about it? Because this metaphor is strong and the patterns at play seem all too familiar. We tend to have a lot of Gods in our lives right now as well. We just don’t call them that. And we follow their rituals obediently.

On the one hand, we have human beings, who are made Gods. We call them Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Beyoncé, Tony Robbins, Lionel Messi. If you take the meaning of what a God is - a Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness - we worship them just like that. They become untouchable to every form of criticism.

On the other end, there is this group of people who see themselves as Gods and we supported that feeling for long enough. Some managers and bosses find themselves threatened to be kicked from the pedestal they stood on for so long. Their motivation for being a manager is the power they gain through that position.

In general, a lot of those who fall under the categorisation above are not in it to be benevolent to your personal cause and problems. Which is not a problem if we are aware of that and the fact that those people do not live to make our individual lives better. If we know how to use what they are offering for our means and causes we can build a symbiosis that serves both ends.

But what if we don't know what our means and causes are? What if we are not sure what our own goals and values are? That's where frameworks and systems come in. They promise to give us structure, clarity, and guidance. They offer step-by-step instructions, proven formulas, and success stories. They make our lives easier by reducing complexity and uncertainty. And most above-mentioned Gods are not short of frameworks to offer to us. A safe way to spot those frameworks: The little word "just".
  • “Just wake up at 5 a.m. to set yourself up for success.”
  • “I became a self-made millionaire and so can you, if you just follow my 5 steps”
  • “Just focus on that one goal and hustle, hustle, hustle”
The problem is, those frameworks and systems will not work for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another. What resonates with one person may not resonate with another. Sometimes even worst: What works for one person, might have serious negative outcomes for another. We tend to fall back on frameworks and systems because they seem to make our lives easier.

But the thing that makes frameworks so appealing is also the thing that makes them so prone to what could be perceived as individual misery and failure. We tend to take success recipes as exactly that - a recipe: 150gr of hard work, 50gr of long nights, 100gr of capital and after a bit of baking time you get success. Tadaaa. But we rarely question the recipes and if we don’t like the taste of the dish we were just served, there must be something wrong with us, not the systems.

Think of the hustle culture that celebrates working long hours, sacrificing our well-being and our obsession with productivity. There are people out there who can work perfectly fine in a system like that. And some people break under the influence of such a regiment. And it becomes more and more obvious that actually, it is the majority of people who do not withstand the pressure. So is the problem on those people because "they just don't want success hard enough"?

Systems and frameworks are fine, but we should also keep in mind what they encompass: over-generalizations, reductionisms, confirmation biases and an over-reliance on statistical significance. The moment we take the success recipe of one of our Gods and try to apply it to us without reflecting on the assumptions of the system, we set ourselves up for failure.

So, what should we do instead? Drink from the holy grail of context! Question the frameworks and systems. Don't just blindly follow them because they seem to work for others. Recognize that everyone is different and what works for some may not work for you.

Let's stop worshipping false gods and blindly following systems that may not work for us. Let’s get together at a table and instead of just receiving communion, actually live in community. Let’s exchange our plans, our struggles and our successes and let’s write our individual recipes. And let’s get those Gods down from their thrones and let them be what they actually are - human beings, with dreams, ideals - and flaws.

What others wrote

No text I ever write just comes out of my brain from some form of abyss. I am not that genius creative. I read a lot of stuff that forms my opinion. Not all of it makes it into my articles. Some things are just a brain tickler. So I will share good pieces with you, so maybe they also tickle your brain.
“Just use this piece of software and get rid of all the admin - just focus on being the most creative version you can be!” Did you ever hear those claims? The promise made here is that the less you think about source code, scripts, links and the web itself, the more creative you are. What a lie. Just like you want to touch the material in your workshop to get an idea of what to do with it, it might actually be more beneficial to wrap your head around the system in the back than just letting it happen to you.
Are Large Language Models like ChatGPT sentient? Do they understand us? Do they actually know what they are saying? With the discussions about ChatGPT we are talking a lot about language and human communication. So let’s listen to a linguist’s take on it!
And while we are busy talking about all these technological advancements, what stays of us humans? One need is philosophy. And we all have it. So get a glass of wine. You are, therefore, you shall philosophise

A word from ...

This month I want to recommend you "The Book of Beautiful Questions" by Warren Berger
"The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think" - Harper Lee
Book Cover The Book of Beautiful Questions
I love questions. I love asking questions. And I love hearing great questions. Questions are a wonderful tool to learn about people, stuff that happens, things and the world in general. Because no good story ever starts with somebody just talking about what they know! What a blessing to then find a book that collects questions!

A Conversation with my Future Skills

In the first ever Conversation with my Future Skills I talk to Sophie Lechner. She is the founder of The Global Growth Experience. Over the last 15 years she has built a large global network on LinkedIn that has led to speaking engagements in the US and abroad, podcast invitations and an interview in Forbes. She has created the LinkedIn MAGNET Method to help entrepreneurs, coaches and authors to grow their business by building meaningful relationships while staying aligned with their values and their personality.
So as you can maybe guess, we talk about LinkedIn a bit, but most importantly, we talk about connection and relationships and how the online world has opened up our world. We go into creating, establishing and managing spaces off- and online and we go into the awareness of bubbles, the comfort of a setting a relationship takes place in and its boundaries and guidelines.
I hope you enjoy the conversation just as much as I did. Here’s Sophie on Connection.

The Good News

I am a space nerd. I like space. And every once in a while it hits me what random struggles women have to go through to take part in this chapter of human exploration. So here’s one step towards taking our seat at the space table. Even if the food served on this table is not necessarily the creme de la creme.

Upcoming in the Academy of Future Skills

We are living in a fast-paced world, and it's more important than ever to understand how we can harness the power of connection. However, rapidly increasing the number of LinkedIn connections says little about the level of deeply felt and nurtured connections that can actually enrich your life.

We teamed up with The Connection Hub, a UK-based ideas incubator and community for neurodivergent founders/future founders of purpose-driven businesses and not-for-profits looking to realise a vision for their life and orginisations of meaning connection and purpose. Our event aims to discover the medicine to prevent watering down what "having a connection" means. Instead, we believe in giving room to make connections genuine. We'll discuss the importance of fostering a sense of belonging, building a network, and what caring for somebody else can entail.

We'll explore how superficiality makes connections less rich and how we can strive for a "richer everything".
Join us for a discussion on the importance of connection as a future skill. We'll dive deep into the topic through a series of discussions and free-floating conversations with people who are passionately active in the field. Let’s create a space where we can learn from each other and exchange ideas with like-minded individuals interested in fostering meaningful connections in their personal and professional lives.
That's it for this month. Thanks for reading the 17th Edition and for your support. Please let me know what you think of the newsletter. All feedback welcome!
And on a last note, just to let you know: This newsletter, as any, was made by the loving support of snacks, coffee, and the vastness of the internet.
We actively want to bring in colours, not just lighten the place up! We want to create the space, where ideas from other dimensions are included, where thoughts outside of the black and white realm find a touchpoint with the spectrum. We want to explore possibilities how our society can be a better one when we don’t fight the unknown but embrace it with open arms and a curious mind. It is an offer to think differently. It’s an offer for different views, opinions and insights so that the “One Size Fits All” story becomes a range of various stories that show us the immense beauty of what humans can create.
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