untitled original art by Gunther Sonnenfeld

What Positive Change Entails Right Now

Three critical questions to explore as we reframe the process from conversation to insight to coordinated action.

If you would, sit with the following for a moment. Clear your mind of any noise. Look past your beliefs and notions of ‘what is’, ‘what isn’t’, or ‘what can’t be done’.

Now, ask yourself these three questions:

Question 1: How is it logical that we work, invest in and own companies that pillage the earth of natural resources, commodify labor, and then when we don’t like the results, we donate to foundations and other non-profits that unsuccessfully attempt to ‘right what has been wronged’?

Consider: A certain stock-taking reveals to us, with greater and greater clarity, that what we think we are doing to protect the planet and support humanity in all of its forms isn’t nearly enough.

Question 2: How is it that we can think that the election of a Donald Trump, or conversely, of a Emmanuel Macron, is something that ‘just happened overnight’, as if we haven’t contributed to long-developing preconditions leading to this moment?

Consider: Reality & history are elements we must constantly reexamine, to include our own roles in the outcomes.

Question 3: Do we honestly think that normative science and economics are the only knowledge domains from which we can find answers to our most pressing, systemic problems?

Consider: Creating different futures requires the ability to let go of what we think we know, to then focus on what’s possible. More specifically, we must give up being ‘right’.


Your mind might be telling you that the questions are the rhetorical, or too involved, or that the answers are too complicated to entertain. Or, you might be considering these questions in your daily life and work, but don’t see how the answers can manifest in reality. Maybe it all seems just too hard, or too difficult, or too unreasonable. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself and others around you that you are ‘saving the world’. Maybe you are. But you still have to constantly ask yourself: What’s really changing for the better?

And… maybe that’s precisely where we can all uplevel our capacities to create real, sustained positive change.

How we can participate differently

Living freely and experiencing commercial, civil + creative freedoms require a new approach to our notions of democracy. In short, different forms of direct participation (such as in policy development) can reweave and reorient the fabric of civic society such that systems of government and governance reflect a balance between special interests and common interests.

Here’s what that looks like, and what is being built to facilitate it…

Being certain rather than being right

There is a certainty to specific outcomes in the world as we understand it now; one example is that our current operational models are leading us down a path to the destruction of a livable earth, one from which we cannot recover. Yet, as this truth pervades many intellectual, social and academic circles, we find ourselves fighting over perspectives, instead of putting our differences aside to focus our intentions on co-creating viable solutions.

Alas, a big ‘pivot’ is imminent and well within our grasp…

Acting with clarity & precision

There is a common leaning towards cognitive and supernal powers to ‘explain away’ phenomena that are either complex and/or too difficult to grasp. But it is not complexity nor confusion we must commit ourselves to ‘unraveling’; it is our own power in the forms of clarity and precision that enable us to transcend what we think know or do not know, or, what don’t know that we don’t know.

Clarity and strength of mind — which result in actions of focused intent — have little if anything to do with cognitive enhancements (such as with ‘transhumanism’) or methods to ‘accelerate consciousness’ (various New Age derivations), but rather a clearing of mental noise whereby our inner power can actually be sourced.

Building solutions

Traverse the landscape of environmental, social impact as well as other civic domains and you might find an interesting pattern: a general inability to coordinate actions in such a way that viable alternatives (solutions) can be offered to a wider array of people.

The economics behind this are actually quite simple, even if the details to execute alternatives are not. Alas, when we focus our intentions, we commit to building without having to ‘know’ the outcomes, then we can learn and adapt quickly at accelerated scale.

Building in solidarity & maladjustment

Confrontation — most often in the form of dissonance — is one of the great tools we can use to make discoveries about what’s possible. We tend to ignore or attempt to suppress feelings around anger, resignation, apathy or mistrust as a way of ‘thinking positively’ instead of seeing an opportunity to take different lessons away from the experiences we undergo.

With information systems themselves, we have a great opportunity to completely reframe the way we think, the way we collaborate and the ways we coordinate actions around issues of which we can actually see a renewed context. Our belief systems and mental models actually do us a tremendous disservice if we are unwilling to question what we see, hear and read in a world of chaos and disorder.

More importantly, all the ‘answers’ lie within us and our collective groups, and as such, that collective intelligence is waiting to be mined and scaled so that we can act in true solidarity, even if we may disagree on many things.

This is the core philosophy behind our upcoming open journalism & networked intelligence platform INSURGE.

In truth, nothing great emerges from our comfort zones and our consoling illusions. No great acts of courage or valor have come from our ‘safe spaces’.

As the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated:

“The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”

As such, it appears we need to get a lot more uncomfortable to see what is real, and what is possible.

In doing so, you can create a future of your choosing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gunther Sonnenfeld is the managing director of Bottom Line Growth, a unique active advisory group dedicated to building socioeconomic & environmental solutions. He is also a founding partner at Higher Order VC, a next generation venture capital platform focused on alternative technology, media and ecological investments (you can read about HOVC’s unique fund structure here). Additionally, he advises several private funds on alternative investment strategies. As a technologist and global strategist, Gunther is in service to creating a healthy, compassionate, regenerative economic system.