Are You Living in Today’s World?

Our time is a time for crossing barriers. Emotionally, it is much more gratifying and secure to live in Bonanza-land. It is the old environment. Every time a new environment forms, people go back and live in the old one.

Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage

Are you living in today’s world?

Recently, I have been in discussions with a colleague about a new podcast that we plan to co-host together.

At first, I thought this would be a simple project to pull together. But the more I explore it, the more I realize that I need to do a lot more learning — and thinking.

Fortunately, my colleague has deep experience in the broadcast industry, and she brought that perspective to our discussions.

The medium is the message.

In response to one of my early proposals, my colleague realized I wasn’t getting something important. That’s when she brought the concept of “the medium is the message” to my attention.

She suggested that I go read up on Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan was a Canadian philosopher who did seminal work in media theory in the 1960s and 70s. He was the originator of the phrase “the medium is the message.”

McLuhan’s remarkable observation was that “societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which we communicate than by the content of the communication.”

This situation is undoubtedly more relevant today than ever before. However, there’s a lot more to it that I really didn’t get.

McLuhan suggests that while we seemingly enjoy the many benefits of any new media, it is deceiving because the changes between society and technology are incongruent, creating a time of uncertainty.

So what do we do?

McLuhan says we go back and live in the past where it’s emotionally more comfortable. He calls it Bonanza-land. A make-believe world made famous by the hit TV series Bonanza in the early 1960s.

The main cast of the TV series Bonanza.

Are you living in today’s world or Bonanza-land?

Where would you place yourself on the calendar?

Are you living in today’s world as represented by the white square?

Or are you living comfortably in Bonanza-land represented by the green square or somewhere in between?

If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, you are probably aware that I repeatedly bring up the idea that the world has shifted — and now it’s time for us to make the shift too. (See Power to Shift Your World.)

For many years, I was an avid advocate for living and working in what I now call the Industrial Age world. I was a high achiever and worked tirelessly to work even harder and smarter.

I was always on the lookout for the latest best practices or adopting the newest silver bullet solutions that were apparently working great elsewhere.

You’d find me investing a lot of time creating detailed project plans, holding myself and others accountable for results, and doing their part. It was all about results, greater growth, and more of everything.

After all, isn’t that what our society, schools, and culture teach us?

How to live in today’s world

Can I ask you a few questions?

Is it important to you to live in the current reality, not the past? 

Would you like to live your life based on today’s reality, not the commonly held beliefs of society?

If so, would it be important to discover the edges of your current boundaries and how to go beyond them?

When you discover and move beyond your current boundaries, it impacts how you show up in the world. 

When you show up as more of your real self, a whole new world of possibilities opens to you. You also become an inspiration for others and become a more authentic leader.

I’m currently reorienting myself and my work to focus more on opening up the boundaries that hold us back. 

While my focus has been forward-thinking for the past five years, it has grown beyond that idea, and it may be time to rethink things.

For example, my current Space Beyond Boundaries book and workshop explores the edges of forward thinking, awareness, the mind, the journey, leadership, and dialogue.

We look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future.

Marshall McLuhan