New lenses on the word "Alternatives" to unlock the Future

The sky is the limit

In each word, a WORLD. The "Windows on the Words" series is about looking at words with new glasses. It is about the power and freedom we have to change the stories that shape our Life, so we can change the way we shape the world. This process is at the core of Shapership, the Art of Shaping the Future.

This article is about the word "Alternatives"

Alternatives are other ways of Thinking, Seeing, Acting and/or Doing. It is about seeing and/or creating "choices" between possibilities or options. It is about Freedom. To give you one example at the core of the subject, look at this famous picture: a man at the top of the pyramid of the living system.

No doubt, there is an alternative picture (we all know it)

This is an alternative WORLDVIEW. Why is that essential? Because, consciously or not, all our choices - in our private and Business Life - might be based on one worldview or on the "alternative" one.

To the contrary of the traditional worldview, thoughts and actions are intimately connected.

Vision guides Action. Our choice to go in one "direction" or another" starts in our Mind. It is based on a worldview, on a set of beliefs, on a series of assumptions. In short, on our "Reality". Everything we DO is based on a DECISION. Hopefully between various "alternatives". But sadly, "alternatives" are not always based on "alternative worldviews". Most of them belong in the same unchallenged "box" or paradigm (for instance, scarcity, competition, infinite growth).

Making choices requires choice

To build our future on wise choices, we need to make conscious decisions, in other words, to be aware of the paradigm within which we see things. And before we make decisions, we need to be able to see and/or generate options. We need "alternative routes". If we want to open a Future which is NOT the repetition of the past, we need alternatives based on alternative worldviews.

We are at this point in time where we need "something else than this M.A.D Land, leading to Massive Assured Destruction: an Ego centric world of materialism. We need to reimagine Business, Healthcare, Agriculture, Mobility. We need alternative Futures. And what they have in common is that they most probably are based on alternative - hear different- worldviews. In some cases, radically different ones. Our Planet, our world, our societies and our organisations are dying of our rigid, mechanical and Imaginationless thinking approaches. They lead to Fear, Despair, Cynicism, even to Violence and to the endless Repetition of the S.O.S - Same Old (short-term) Solutions[1] - which pretend to solve problems using the same old obsolete paradigm. The kind of attitude that leads the ostrich to bury its head in the sand!

If we want to stop Business as Usual, we need to stop the "Thinking as Usual" that generates it!

What is needed is a shift in perspectives. The huge amount of changes in the "macrocosm" calls for enormous changes in the "microcosm" - the one between our ears. Not just to correct the Past but to invent alternative meaning-making stories based on genuinely different worldviews. [1] The official version being "Same Old Shit

How do we generate alternatives?

Generating alternative is the basic creative operation of creative Thinking. Have you noticed that, in French, the word alternative NEVER takes an "s" at the end? This suggests there is only ONE alternative. A perfect illustration of "Dual Thinking"! Aren't we all French sometimes? There are always a variety of alternatives. Seeing and creating them depends on our so-called "Freedom of Thought" and the gamut of choices it allows us to imagine. But we often fall into "unconscious Thinking highways" that only lead us to repeat the same "déjà vu" options.

Let's take a simple example.Play with us. What are the alternatives to an orange?

Chances are you automatically find: Lemon, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Clementine. And then, you'll probably sense - consciously or not - that your search for alternatives happens within the limits of a boundary - you are stuck into the citrus fruits - and you'll quickly move to the next possibilities: Apple, Strawberry, Kiwis, Etc. It might go on and on for hours, and include the most original fruits such as kumquats; but we are still operating within an implicit "boundary" : the "category" of fruits. Very often, when we do that exercise in a group, it takes time before somebody comes up with a "Vitamin Bar" as an alternative to an orange. Usually, other people start laughing at her/his lack of respect of the question. And they are then totally flabbergasted when we say "Yes, good alternative!". How can that be? Well! It depends on the implicit and invisible "concept" chosen by the person to search for alternatives to an orange. There is more space and freedom when the concept is fruits than citrus. There is even more space when the orange is "seen" as a "snack" or just "something to "eat".

The sky is the Limit

Our search for alternatives, which is limited by unconsciously remaining "in the box", opens up to infinite possibilities when we become able to identify our mental highways and discover alternative side roads. It might seem trivial when it is applied to the search for an alternative to an orange. But when you are looking for an alternative Future for your life, for your family or your company, the ability to get out of mental highways and generate more and better choices is everything but trivial. That's when you don't want your mind to get stuck into the spelling of Alternative without an "s" at the end. It is about the possibility to live a life full of possibilities, hope and desire. Then, the thing to do is simple:

We need to take the "Altitude Attitude" in our mind.

The Altitude Attitude" is the capacity to consciously shift our perspectives and to think about the way we think from an "elevated perspective". We can recognize the roads we take. We can make our familiar routines and Thinking habits strange to us. We can discover how they sometimes alienate us by distorting our understanding and our sense of possibility. From altitude, comes new directions: new options, new possibilities, a new life.

We have to understand the relationship between the quality of our Thinking and the quality of our Future.

This is the Art and Ethic of Efficient, Creative Thinking and Radical Imagination. Thinking is resisting. It is contradicting the "stuck" experience that leads to lack of Agency, repetitive dialogues and solutions. It brings forward a new sense of Awareness and Infinite Possibilities, so that we can ignite Imagination, Hope, Freedom, Pride and Dignity. This may go against conventional Wisdom approaches such as "Keep your feet on the ground", but it is funnier, richer, wiser. And it works.

Remember. Consciously try alternative worldviews.

The sky is the limit.