The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics is the inspiration for this KEY. I invite you to explore with me the breakthrough implications of an accelerating Universe. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn, who popularized the term Paradigm Shift, observed that scientific progress does not follow a continuous linear trajectory. Kuhn argued for a disruptive and episodic model in which a period of conceptual continuity is interrupted by a period of revolutionary science. Humans have struggled to embrace new paradigms about the world and about themselves from the beginning of time. We are now living through such a disruptive period where breakdowns and breakthroughs converge into confusing and chaotic change. Problems seem impossibly intractable-in Washington, in the Middle East and in a global financial system that is threatening to disappear in a black hole of esoteric quadrillion dollars OTC derivative structures. But right there, amidst the dysfunction and impossibility, profound breakthroughs and system upgrades are possible. In this KEY, we suggest that when you embrace the paradigm of an accelerating Universe, breakthroughs are available right here, right now.
Listen here to our podcast: The Accelerating Universe. As always, your comments are welcome. Please forward this KEY to friends, family and associates.
Your Accelerating Universe
Man's view of the universe is a reflection of man's view of himself. As a toddler, you were the center of the world. Then you grew up to discover (with surprise) that the world does not revolve around you. Some, of course, get arrested in the pre-Copernican age and view of the world.
In people's perception, the Earth was the center of the Universe until Copernicus developed his heliocentric model with the Sun at its center. Galileo improved the telescope, observed Jupiter and the Milky Way and described celestial movements that were contrary to the Church's doctrines and hinted at an even bigger Universe. He was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy" and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Luckily, discovering a new scientific paradigm today is not likely to land you in house arrest, although you should not be surprised to face a mountain of resistance and derision at first. The even greater risk we face today is that we hold ourselves back - we put ourselves under house arrest by refusing to embrace a new map of the world.
In 1922, using the best telescope of his time, Edwin Hubble observed the Andromeda Nebula and realized it was much too distant to be part of the Milky Way and was, in fact, an entire galaxy outside our own. Hubble's findings fundamentally changed the scientific view of the Universe. While most ancient cultures held the concept of a flat Earth, Pythagoras realized in the 6th century BC that the Earth was not flat but spherical. Copernicus placed the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the Universe. And with Hubble's discovery, the Universe grew beyond the Milky Way galaxy.
A Shocking Discovery
The Big Bang theory was initially proposed in 1927, though it would only get its name, the Big Bang, 22 years later. During 1929, the year of the big market crash which ushered in the Great Depression, Hubble observed that the distance between galaxy clusters was increasing. Not only was the Universe bigger than our local galaxy, it was expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years earlier. For several decades, the reigning paradigm was that the Universe had expanded but was now slowing down. Leading thinkers believed the Universe had to decelerate as it cooled down from its initial heated explosion. When scientists set out to measure the rate of deceleration they were stunned. To their amazement and horror, Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess led teams that discovered in 1998 that the expansion of the Universe was not decelerating but was in fact accelerating. This discovery shook and shattered the foundations of cosmology and physics yet again and captured the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for the three scientists.
Acceleration of Universal expansion means the Universe is pumping extra space between celestial bodies at an accelerated rate. Imagine looking out your window and the houses next to yours are getting farther and farther away at an accelerating speed. That's what's happening to celestial bodies and galaxies when they "look" at each other through their windows. They are being pushed farther and farther apart at a faster and faster rate. The discovery was astounding and required scientists to rethink their models. The shift to a universe that accelerates its expansion required the same rethinking of everything that the shift from a geocentric to a heliocentric system required. The discovery produced a new set of questions: What is causing this acceleration? What is the Universal expansion accelerating into? What will happen as expansion continues to speed up and acceleration continues to accelerate?
As Above, So Below
Scientists now believe the acceleration is caused by dark energy. But no one knows what this dark energy is or where it comes from. Mathematical formulas suggest that dark energy constitutes about three-quarters of the Universe. This means we are only scratching the surface of understanding the nature and make-up of the Universe. For all we know, dark energy could be contained in another invisible dimension or series of dimensions-a universe within a universe or series of universes invisibly hiding inside each other like the Russian Babushka dolls.
Here is the game-changing question: If "as above, so below," meaning you and I are a mirror reflection of the Universe, is the implication therefore that each of our universes also contains huge invisible energies and potential?
Possibly you too are a universe within a universe, with three-quarters of your potential as yet invisible and unrealized. Okay, it's a little hard to wrap or bend your mind around this idea, but here is a way to begin to explore and come inside yet another paradigm shift.
Pulled by a Future State
Every few years along your journey from childhood to adulthood and then through your professional career you get to a point where you look around one day and the world seems different. Your view of it has changed. Like your first day in high-school, or the first time you left home, or when you got your first job, or when you became a parent, and so on.
Then there are other, more subtle changes, not triggered by external events, when your perspective simply shifts. You wonder whether something around you has changed, or if you've changed to be able to see what was always there but has only revealed itself to you now.
Throughout the ages humans embraced new understandings of the universe and of life. In a similar way, we continue to evolve our map of the world and of ourselves through our personal journey. But not only the map evolves. At the same time, we now know, the Universe accelerates by some invisible dark energy that we are not yet able to detect or pinpoint. Isn't that exhilarating? The implication is the Universe is moving towards its future state in an increasingly faster way.
Now, how will you internalize this idea? How can you and I accelerate towards our future? What would be a way to live an accelerating-universe-like life? How will your life look when you are universe-like, accelerating towards your future state?
It sounds wacky but come along with me for this mind-bending exploration. Imagine a life where the gravitational pull of tomorrow is greater than that of yesterday. You get up in the morning and define yourself more by what you are becoming today and next month than by who and what you were last year. Do you realize the transformative power of living into your future, free of the gravitational pull of your past?
Every major breakthrough and innovation in technology, medicine and design was made possible by people who did just that-they leaned into the future by harnessing the power of an accelerated universe. Walt Disney and Steve Jobs operated in and created an accelerated universe to transform the world. The Wheels of Innovation accelerated our universe.
The world and your experience in it were significantly accelerated with the explosion of the Internet. Curiously, the discovery of the accelerating Universe coincided with the advent of the Internet. We were learning to tap the invisible power of cyberspace at the same time that we discovered the Universe was filled with invisible "dark energy." Here again, our experience was a mirror image of our view of the Universe.
Accelerating Your Universe
Imagine this invisible energy is agenda free. It can be released into creativity and destruction. The destructive and creative cycles are intertwined. Rapid technological innovation created new businesses and quickly destroyed others. New modes of communication enabled new social phenomena and disrupted powerful regimes. The Facebook and Twitter revolutions engulfed the Arab world and empowered emergent movements throughout the globe. They all represent the nature of an accelerating universe, appearing from seemingly nowhere and quickly gathering energy and momentum to surprise all people involved.
What about you? What invisible energy powers you? What is the gravitational pull that drives your world? Your universe accelerates when you put action over perfection; live in the moment, free of the good opinions of others; forgive quickly, and dare to imagine what can be and act on your beliefs with conviction.
Your universe can accelerate in ways that will surprise you and everybody else. Let me very briefly point a few examples of what becomes possible as you practice living into your accelerated universe. Each of these needs a couple of workshops to bring to life and concretize the practices and strategies involved:
- Transformation - You can decide to transform and let go of old habits instantly. You have the power to cause accelerated transformation.
- Forgiveness - You can choose to reconcile and forgive instantly, which brings an amazing acceleration to your endeavors.
- Problem Solving - We all have the capacity to solve intractable, complex problems. This requires that like the accelerating Universe, the power that propels you to a future state is greater by an order of magnitude than the power that compels the old or ancient state.
- Collaboration - We can dramatically accelerate the collaborative journey from ideation to the creation of results that produce value and meaning.
- Growing young - This is the significance of this paradigm shift and where it gets a little more difficult to grasp. Imagine that while you grow old, another part of you is growing young. Living into an accelerated future means you are growing young, not in chronological terms, but in how your potential and ability to create an impact continues to exponentially grow. You need to meditate on this for a day to begin to grasp how this opens up your creative and leadership potential.
To become Universe-like and accelerate with your invisible energy potential, you need to agree to move forward even though three-quarters of the future is unknown. This is the situation we are in. The difference proposed here is to embrace the future's dynamic opportunity for you in the way you lead your professional and personal pursuits. Once you embrace this new paradigm and way of looking at the world, just about everything gets redefined, including the meaning of work, creativity and innovation. The essence of work, creativity and innovation is to concretize the invisible, to bring out of darkness into light, to turn invisible energy into manifest actuality.
Now it's your turn. Turn the Key. Engage the potential of your accelerating Universe. Imagine the impossible becoming possible and the difficult turning elegant and graceful. That's what Steve Jobs showed us. Encourage the people around you into renewal. Allow yourself and others to be made anew in a new day. Live into and create new transformative futures.
© Aviv Shahar