It’s a global icebreaker. A fun-on-a-shoestring-budget staple. A rainy day saver. A homesickness reducer. A lockdown lifeline. A get-your-kids-to-put-away-their-phones failsafe. Hip hip hooray for family game night!
Even though the actual “games” may look different or are known under distinct names around the world, game night holds the same uniting effect everywhere you go.
Now, just because you’re good at chess doesn’t mean you’ll build an empire in Monopoly. And those prized poker tactics can prove as useless as a silent fire alarm when playing charades, right?
Each new game brings its own rules. But are there gamesmanship skills — like context and adaptivity — transferable to real life? (Yes.) And do those who live globally mobile lives develop an advantage? (Also, yes.)
Whether you like it or not, our global community has been permanently changed by the events of the last two years. And to win at a new game, we’ll need new rules.
So this week, I’m referencing theories from highly-admired futurists and authors Jamais Cascio and Stephan Grabmeier to help us build a modern playbook. Specifically, I’ll dive into the BANI World guide, which is an acronym for: Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, and Incomprehensible.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Honing your intuition
- Denial as a coping strategy
- The decline of uncertainty reduction
- How our current language fails us
- Capacity & resilience
Listen to the Full Episode
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello, It is 06:00 am in New York, 12:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 7:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean. I am an intercultural strategist, transformation facilitator, and solution-oriented coach, and I am on a mission to help you adapt & succeed through ANY life transition.
Maybe in these times, we can draw on the wisdom of Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
This is really part of the reason why I have been so committed to delivering The Steady Series inside the IN TRANSIT Hub, steady support improving results in unsteadied times all of April 2022 together with the Expat Coach Coalition, because for some people living with this level of uncertainty, and unpredictability it feels like hell and what we’re looking for is some sort of direction or soft landing that we can trust. I get it.
This episode, we’re going to talk about; How do we move forward steadily and get results in their lives in unsteady times? And I’m doing this recording on the same day that I’m giving what’s called a “Latte and Learn” for the Steady Series where I’ll talk about; How You Can Anchor Your Support In Solid Tools For Coaching Expats. So if you are someone who wants to work with expats or already does make sure that you check out that learning series that I do because it will help give you more insight. But what I wanted to do today is bring some of those same ideas into this episode so everybody could benefit.
Let’s focus on the word that we’ve heard honestly since 2020 and I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it. The word is, “Unprecedented.” We’re just so over it, of always hearing about how we’ve never gone to this before and we just don’t know how to move forward. We know that. We know that times are unprecedented and it’s like we’re looking for more. How do we move forward? How do we deal with these unprecedented times? How do we deal with these current circumstances when we have no roadmap? And everybody’s looking at everybody else going, “Yeah, uh, can you help me out here?”
And, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this myself and I think part of it is that we need a fresh language, a fresh approach to talk about the way that things have changed.
And I have to be really honest when all of this started, actually in December 2019, I’m like, “Oh, that’s just a thing in China. And it’s not going to come to South Africa. It’s not going to come to Europe,” etc. And then all of a sudden, March 2020 things started to get real. In fact, I almost got locked out of South Africa, had I not followed my intuition and change my flight, I would have been in big trouble, and separated from my family.
At the time, I didn’t want to accept that the world was different. But now that we’re 2-3 years on, we know it’s changed world. So we need new language to explain this changed world, and we need a road map to move forward.
So even if we don’t know if the map works yet, it’s better than having no map at all.
So I’m turning to the work from Jamais Cascio, a renowned futurist. And that work has been built on Stephan Grabmeier for direction, and you may have heard about this. This is something that we’ve been talking about actually for several years, even before the pandemic, but it’s talking about living in a BANI World. A BANI world is Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear and Incomprehensible. Does that sound familiar?
I mean, for real how much around you feels brittle? How much anxiousness are you seeing in yourself in your loved ones, on your social media feed, in the news globally?
Nonlinear and is a little bit more abstract and we’re going to talk about that little bit but incomprehensible for sure. That one is intuitive. We get that. But we’re going to go through each term and we’re going to talk about how do we use BANI as a road map in our lives now to create steady progress and get proven results.
So let’s start with brittle. Now again, what I’m sharing is in part based on how I’ve digested the work from Jamais Cascio and from Stephan Grabmeierr and how I’ve seen it work out in our lives and trends, especially for those who are living highly globally mobile lives, or used to, before all this stuff started.
Brittle, B for BANI is brittle, and this is the thing, we know brittle, we know it’s something that’s fragile. And brittle is something that can fall apart and the tricky part about living in a brittle world is that we can’t rely on something brittle, even when it seems stable, right? Even what feels stable can be fragile.
And, for example, that’s how I felt when I felt like we had reached stability at the end of the pandemic or what we were coming out of the pandemic, and all of a sudden, Russia invaded Ukraine, I felt like something crumbled and it felt like there was stability, but there really wasn’t. And maybe you felt that in your own life, where you didn’t get the assignment or maybe your company sent you home early, or maybe they removed a contract that you thought was going to be long-term, right? Creating instability in something that you thought was stable. So I don’t think I need to give more examples. I think you get it. Brittle, wanting to rely on something but realizing that even what seems stable can be fragile. So that’s inherent in the BANI world.
The next one is Anxious. I’ve noticed this in really large ways with potential clients is this idea of helplessness or even working through this with my clients, anxiousness, people feel helpless. Have you caught yourself waiting for the next disaster or crisis? If you’re a business owner, were you afraid to even plan anything? Because you felt like it was just going to get sabotaged anyway. Or maybe you’ve noticed a tendency to be passive. I am seeing implications in this, people who put their dreams their ambitions, their internal transformations pretty much on hold from that feeling of anxiousness and helplessness and are now frustrated that they didn’t work through that when it started to emerge in 2020 because now we are heavy two years down the road, and they realize in hindsight that they could have been taking small gentle action. Again, not ignoring your feelings, not ignoring reality, but small gentle action to move forward which would actually be nurturing and reduce anxiety. That’s the irony about this idea about Anxious is when you’re feeling helpless and you go into a mode of passivity, you actually stay stuck in anxiety and anxiousness rather than nurturing where you’re at into something more positive, and more empowering. So definitely been seeing that happening.
Nonlinear is a really interesting one in terms of the concept with BANI. Nonlinear, I’ll let you do your own research and read more about it and how it has to do with tech, how it has to relate to AI, all kinds of interesting things. But in our everyday lives, think about it how small decisions have large impacts. I saw this happening where people were asking themselves, “Should I stay or go?”
I had clients who were on the verge of repatriating or expatriated and they had to decide, “Do we go this week or not?” Because if they didn’t make that decision would have had an impact of getting locked out or in for 18 months, right? Being there for a funeral or not. Small decisions, large impacts, and we’ve been seeing that happen. We’ve been seeing changes with the delayed impact. I’ve noticed changes that have happened have had an impact on my business, one year later. I’m like, “Hey, what? Where’d that come from?” But I read now in hindsight, I can see that, it’s nonlinear. It’s not one-to-one. So you’re watching that happen as a business owner. And you might notice for yourself that when you’re putting in your effort, it just might fizzle. So you can’t count on your steady progress when that’s happening.
There are two examples, I think about that are gorgeous about Nonlinear:
- Do you remember when that container got stuck in the canal? And it had it was a small thing for that one container, but it had massive global impacts on all of the people who are waiting for their things globally. So that was a large impact.
- And there’s something I’m thinking about, I was just saying it to my husband last night while he was cooking, this idea of Nonlinear what we watched happen. And it’s actually, I think going to be quite beautiful, but I’ve noticed my youngest son, create friendships with new classmates and also girls in his class because of gaming online. And this started from lockdown and now he has friendships with girls that he hasn’t before, and he’s associated those girls with gaming. And I just think about what kind of nonlinear impact might that have when young kids from all over the gender spectrum are interested in gaming? And what will that do for creating a lower bias around who are gamers? Who is competent at gaming?
What friendships were established online now might result in new business relationships, 20 years from now. We don’t know, and that’s going to be fun to see. So, it’s one of the positive things I think about Nonlinear.
My word for this year is, Infinite Possibilities.
So, I am trying to have that clear message with the universe about what I mean by infinite possibilities. But that is something that I think is fun to tap into when we think about how this nonlinear nature, what might be possible.
So, because of that nonlinearness that’s going on, the results seem to lack logic or purpose. And it could be something– if you remember my recent interview with Maikel Groenewoud, how we talked about AI, and how, if something is biased and programmed into artificial intelligence, it can have, literally, life-changing negative impacts on communities. Like, they were talking about levels of oxygen measurement and Black lives, right? So, it’s incomprehensible that one minor miss-biased-code can actually impact lives. It is absurd what can happen and the impact and magnitude of that. So it is hard to grasp and it does feel absurd and that’s why we’re living this incomprehensible time.
I know, when I woke up, what was it, January 6th, when the US Capitol the insurrection happened and I looked at the photos with the furs and the horns and all of this stuff, and some of the things that happened inside the Capitol. It was for me, the definition of absurd. I couldn’t believe that was happening in the nation’s capital and for those who have been following racism in the US, they might say that it’s not surprising, but the images were absurd. And the idea is just overwhelming. And so this idea of the incomprehensible happening. We’re watching incomprehensible things happening, politically, innocent lives being lost around the world. When you wake up in the morning, you’re like, “Really, I can’t even comprehend this.” Right? And for me, we call it uncertainty reduction, when you’re feeling uncertain, you go for information to reduce uncertainty. And what we’re noticing now is, unfortunately, more data doesn’t always clarify. In fact, it might even confuse or overwhelm and you know that when you know people were doing research on COVID, who were they listening to, which experts were credible, which social media feeds were saying what about it.
So I think I’ve made the case pretty clear, we are in a BANI world and you might have your own examples that you’re thinking of. And this might make you feel like it’s the end of the world. I’m thinking of that song *singing* “It’s the end of the world as we know it,” and I’m joking and it’s not funny, right? I say this with a little – I’m trying to laugh because otherwise, you’ll cry your eyes out.
But the thing is, I am hopeful. I really am hopeful. And my thing is, and I’ll talk about this more, at the end of this whole episode. This is where we’re at. I struggle sometimes when something changes, I do love to live in denial for a while. It’s like one of my coping strategies. So, I like to plug my ears and go, “La la la, it’s not happening. I’m going to ignore it.” But I feel like I’m in a place now where I’m like, “No, this is new game. This is what we’re doing.” So where is the optimism? Where can we feel empowered? And what can we do about it? And I do feel optimistic and especially, there are two groups that I’m thinking about:
- For those of us who have been living cross-cultural or globally mobile lives, we are perfectly poised to do this. And I’ll tell you more in a second, why I mean that.
- And the other is for those of us who are in coaching, who are therapists, or other professionals who are serving expats, this is our time. We are made for this, and this is our time to support in unsteady times. This is where we need to be showing up as fully as possible to make as much of an impact as we can.
I know is individuals we can ride this out in a new way. And I know as coaches and those in a support function, especially for those who are living globally mobile lives, are perfectly poised to support in unsteady times.
So here’s how, and I hope that you feel that same level of hope and optimism by the time you’re listening to this episode.
So thankfully, we can draw on the work from other futurists who have created a beginning of a roadmap for us to move forward. So when we’re looking at BANI: Brittleness, what is brittleness require us to do when things are brittle? What do we need to build? When there’s anxiety, how do we reduce anxiety so we can still function? In a context where there’s nonlinearity, how do we continue to adapt? And when things are feeling incomprehensible, what do we need to draw on to move forward? Those are important questions and I want us to explore them together today in this episode.
And we were talking about living in a BANI world on XPath Global. We did a live chat on April 14th with experts. I was also joined by Angie Weinberger and we were talking about this BANI world and what does that mean when we are living in transition and our challenges feel unseen? And my perspective is, “Hey! New game.”
We really need to update, and I’ll talk about this more in other podcasts, update our operating system, update our operating instructions. We need a new game and this is our opportunity as individuals and those who support the global mobile, for example to have a new game. And this is hard to do, because we have what has worked. We have our patterns that are habits and it’s like what we need to switch out the lens, if we were wearing glasses and we had on, let’s say rose colored glasses. We gotta take those rose-tinted glasses and put on the ones that help us see now more clearly, and help us see what maybe is subtle. Right? And again, all of this is about steady, steady results, proven results and most of this is not dramatic. It’s not an on or off switch, its gentle, it’s nuanced.
So we’re going to walk through that really briefly when we’re talking about the BANI. So I’m going to go backwards from BANI. We’re going to start with Incomprehensible. It’s like, “What do I do when I can’t comprehend it? How do I anchor myself and steady myself when everything feels incomprehensible?” Honestly, we have to anchor ourselves. And what can we do?
- I think as business owners, and I’m going to talk more about the business side in another episode and in one of my Latte and Learns. But as business owners, if things are incomprehensible, we can work on being transparent with our community. If we are a family member, we can be transparent about where we are or with ourselves. So it’s, “Hey, I’ve never done this before. Things are always changing. I don’t quite understand the layers here. I’m working to try to understand,” right? Really drawing on transparency. And I think this technique when we’re dealing with incomprehensibility and we’re being transparent about where we are, actually positively impacts the anxiety level, because then we’re just reminding everyone we’re in this together, and we are human, and we don’t know, but at least, I’m sharing what I do know when I don’t know.
- Okay, and the other thing, I think when we’re looking at incomprehensibility when we’re looking at what all this calls for is intuition and Stephan Grabmeier has a great graphic that I’ll share in the show notes, which helps you see how these match up one-to-one. But when we don’t understand and there isn’t a clear roadmap that’s already been given to us, who decides? Who decides what the next steps are? You do. With your intuition that you are nurturing. So for any of us that are not already nurturing our intuition, this is the time to do it because I know for myself, when I’ve been through a crisis situation, like when we were in Burkina Faso and there was a political uprising or there was an attempted coup d’état or there was a terrorist attack or whatever was going on, I remember in the beginning and one of the early crisis situations, I was looking to the outside for answers until my husband was like, “Sundae, no one has the answers. We have to look within.” And so this is really important to really tap into our intuition. So, what does that mean? How do you tap into your intuition?
And I think it very connects to the same strategies that help us reduce our anxiety. So if we’re looking at BANI that was incomprehensible, I want to skip over to the A, Anxiety. And anxiety asks us to be mindful, right? And that helps us actually hone our intuition. Do you see how these are interconnected? So when we’re feeling anxiety, maybe we need to go to mindfulness. Like, “Wow, how am I feeling? And am I present? Am tapping into my intuition?” Mindfulness.
And then Empathy, and I think the perfect example is this recent crisis with Russia and the Ukraine because of the way I’m connected globally. When I felt anxiety rise about that context, it was very self-centered, it was around my anxieties, around my life. But when I was able to drop down into empathy and to mindfulness, I was able to see it in more complex ways. I was able to understand. What was I grieving? How was I really doing? What did I need to do to show up for my clients? What I need to do to show up for myself? And then, how do I have empathy with all parties? For those who are directly impacted around the world in nuanced ways because this is obviously much more beyond just two countries in conflict. This is tapping into a generational trauma around the world that Weltschmerz. So are you now, in terms of moving forward and whatever steady progress you want to create in your life, whether it’s in your business, your relationship or your parenting approach, or your health? We need to we need to make sure, we are also navigating and holding this BANI world up with healthy strategies. And empathy and mindfulness are our two of those things that will help with anxiety.
So, just do a quick check with yourself. Are are you engaging in intentional empathy, intentional mindfulness, as a strategy to reduce anxiety? If not, then there you go. Now, you know. That’s something you can start. Same thing when things are incomprehensible. Are you intentionally doing the work to tap into your intuition and being transparent with your community or communities? Family? Loved ones, etc?
All right. So we’ve talked about Incomprehensible, Anxiety, let’s pop back to Nonlinearity. It calls for, according to the research that we’re looking at, it calls for actually, what people who are living globally mobile lives are great at anyway, looking at context and adaptivity. So what is beautiful about this, is for those of you who are in my community, who are living in transition and have had multiple transitions over and over, you know there are parts of you that are highly adaptive. This isn’t your first rodeo, right? So reminding yourself, “Hey, I have been dubbed active in the past and I can adapt now. What did I do in the past that worked? How can I apply that to now? And what is the context I need to be seeing now.” And this is again, you see how these are all interrelated. With context, I tap into empathy. Not just my context, but what’s the global context? What’s the economic context? The relational context? So we can nurture our own strategies by tapping into that context. “What do I know about the context and how have I been adaptive in the past?” So that helps us with nonlinearity, helps us cope and move forward.
So we’ve got the ANI but we haven’t talked about Brittle yet, with BANI. And brittleness requires us to build capacity and resilience. Capacity and Resilience. And this is something I’ve talked about for years, you know that I am about building capacity and resilience. This is something that is one of my rally cries, by battle cries. We do need to constantly be adding our capacity and building resilience for whatever life slings at us. Even in normal times because we’re doing real life. And so I would encourage you to do an assessment for yourself: Are you taking care of yourself? You know what I say about first-class self-care, that are you taking excellent care of yourself so that you can optimize your capacity. Right? And it doesn’t mean you have to be super strong. It means just as strong as you can be now, so you can be as resilient as you can be, now. So it’s not feeding into the brittleness but actually creating strength inside of you, inside of your organization, inside of your business, inside of your family. That is so important.
And this is something I’ve been talking about this entire time. This is not new. So you can check back at some of my other podcasts on how to build resilience and how to take care of yourself for more insight. But I want to put that out there because it is so critical, now, in these uncertain times and I mentioned that because I don’t want you to get back into that place of passivity and helplessness because, no matter what is going on globally, life does continue to move forward. And the world is still spinning, and we do need to keep putting food on the table, and keep nurturing our relationships and keep taking care of ourselves. So that is so important.
I talk a lot more about this on building resilience. Inside my program Adapt & Succeed where I also train my coaches from Expat Coach Coalition on how to help individuals build capacity and resilience.
So listen, just a side note for resilience, if you are supporting others, if you’re a parent, if you are an employer, if you are inside an existing community, we will serve others and help people build their capacity and resilience, but don’t forget about your strategies,
I always tell my clients, “You’re the golden goose, you’re creating the golden egg so you need to be the one who is also out there doing your work.” And what I know about people who are empathetic and want to serve and want to help others, it’s pretty easy to forget about yourself in the process. And that’s the whole oxygen mask first strategy.
All right, so I think this is perfect perfectly said by Jamais Cascio, he’s The American Anthropologist and Futurist that talks about the BANI world. He says, “Foresight turns out to be a critical adaptive strategy for times of great stress.” So let’s use this, know, what do we know now? And how do we take that and put it forward toward foresight so that we are adaptive in this BANI world? How do we focus on nurturing our capacity and resilience? How do we focus on making empathy and mindfulness a practice? Keeping mindful of adaptive strategies and really seeing the context and then using transparency in our communication and tapping into our intuition.
That’s the roadmap. That’s what we’ve got. And that is better than passive. That’s better than freezing. That’s better than not knowing. It’s better than doing it the old way because old ways don’t work in new systems. So there you go. I’m going to go more in detail in that in session of the Steady Series, where I’m going to talk about anchoring yourself for long-term business success. So if you want more, check that out.
Also, if you would love to build your own capacity and resilience, your transparency, your empathy, and the way that you can build up yourself but also others, if you are someone who already serves the globally mobile community or wants to, then I invite you to check out Expat Coach Coalition. I’ve been talking about It for weeks inside the IN TRANSIT Hub. I open the doors to this once or twice a year. This is the only time that I have it scheduled for 2022 so now is the time. This is an opportunity. Expat Coach Coalition, is not just a program. It is actually a movement where we collectively teach more expats proven strategies so they can make the most of their lives, even in a BANI world. Where we as professionals channel serving them have thriving businesses. Where we fortify our own business skills, and our coaching skills, and our own resilience ourselves. Because I truly believe that together we absolutely are stronger. We need that more than ever now in these times, right? How can we come together to amplify our competence? How can we adapt? How can we leverage what we already do well? How can we add fresh tools and serve those in transition? And how can you amplify how you show up in your business? That’s what it’s all about it’s a two-part program. If you’re interested, apply, and I’ll send you all kinds of details. You’ll find out about the tools that I teach, you’ll find out about the business side. One of my graduates just said, “It’s like a mini MBA for solopreneurs.” So I love that.
It is five months of your transformation. So you can build your confidence, your know-how, your security, and your revenue. Do not be intimidated by the people who’ve already joined the Coalition because there are some amazing fantastic professionals in there. But if you look at the lineup of who’s already been through the program, don’t do that thing where you’re minimizing your own talents and abilities because I guarantee you there were others within the Coalition who did that. And once they got over that they were able to fully step into their skills and abilities. What I’m loving is that this program has been around, it’s tested. The materials have been tested for, I don’t know, going on 12 years and the actual program has been around four or five years. And those in the community who have taken it, have said it’s actually perfect for right now, when I hear about it.
Listen to what one person said, she said, “This program is great at providing action-based strategies to help me take control of whatever is bothering me, rather than feeling like life is spinning out of control,” and that came, even before all of this, all of these interesting times weld up.
So check it out. I’m happy to say more. Go ahead and apply at https://www.sundaebean.com/expat-coach-coalition/. All you do is apply, tell me about you, and then we can talk. But just a caveat, this is the only time in 2022 that I have that currently scheduled. It will be the last time I offer Expat Coach Coalition at this price. So don’t miss out. Applications close, April 29, 2022. So the time this podcast goes live, it’ll be Friday. So definitely get your application in. Applying doesn’t commit you to anything but it does invite you to have a conversation with me, if this is really a high fit for you and we will be starting May 16th.
So there you go. This is all part of the Steady Series. It’s going on all of April and we still have more. So join me when this episode comes out, I will be getting ready for the Latte and Learn on the business side. So if you listen to this on the day it goes live, don’t miss out on that live session that very day or each recording. You also have other things to look forward to help steady yourself. We will have Juliana Overmeyer coming in and talking about; How to be Unshakable in Uncertain Times. Where she’ll help us look at how to rely on your faith in times of transition. Not one Faith or one religion, but, in general. So you could adopt at to whatever way you draw sort of strengthen something bigger. And then we have this beautiful way to look at feeling steady with Nick Pinguet, she’s the founder of A Home Worth Having on how to design a space where you feel grounded and fully fit in. So even when the world out there feels scary, we can create a home where we feel grounded.
All right, everyone, all of this is part of our intention of how do we move forward in a BANI world? How do we work through or with this brittleness, anxiety, non-linearity, and incomprehensibility that’s going on? The answers are right there. They are right there, right? In these unprecedented times, we can’t control the outcomes, but we can move through the brittle while building capacity and resilience. We can manage anxiety, by honing our empathy and mindfulness. We can cope with this nonlinearity by staying focused on context and adaptability. And we can work through the incomprehensible in community with others and also by being transparent and developing our intuition. That is, the best roadmap that we have right now in a BANI world. And if you are a coach and aspiring coach, or a professional, that serves expats in some way, do reach out about Expat Coach Coalition because the world needs us now more than ever. And I’ve got tested tools and business practices that will help you help others in these unsteady times.
All right, you’ve been listening to IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean. Thank you for listening. I will leave you with the words from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “Solving an unprecedented crisis will require unprecedented ambition.”
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