IT’S NOT ALL A MATTER OF OPTIMIZATION – FORGE YOUR FUTURE WITH AVANT-GARDE

Positive progress and innovation are driven by free societies that seek change. Change, however, is not a natural law. Change is fueled by people that exploit the potential of capitalism and ‘creationalism’ and embrace both the optimization of the given while tapping into the unknown, thus uniting the “art of being right” with the “art of being wrong.”

Positive progress and innovation feel almost impossible in our lives today. Through social media, we lose autonomy and real-life experiences that help us develop resilience—the power of resistance in our (own) thinking—and deal with the world’s complexity. The digital-consumer society, wherein we humans are the exploited product, is a self-reinforcing downward spiral. We created a world in which “the self” is defined by the outside world—by our bank account and by what others think of us. Now, a void has emerged.

Very few people come to experience a truly profound crisis that alters their very foundations and reality. Humanity, in general, lacks resilience. Somehow, we have misunderstood the pursuit of resilience as optimization. In the Western World, we have our fitness classes and endless wellness trips. We’ve made our bodies strong but left our minds behind. Digitally driven by recommendation algorithms, we have become dopamine-driven junkies who react but lack coherent goals. Health is, itself, an epidemic when people live only to survive.

Today, we’re captivated by what we hold to be self-evident. What seems to be taken for granted is that technology frees us from tedious duties and exhausting work.

We are now experiencing the digital tsunami that many thought was a distant-future scenario just a year ago. Along with all of the corresponding risks and side effects. Automation and technological progress are indispensable when it comes to coping with the problems of mankind. These forces, however, fail to solve the problem(s) of the ‘Mensch.’ Nor does this, in any form, provide an answer to the meaning of our existence.

CREATIONALISM

CREATIONALISM

In the mid-nineteenth century, the French used the term avant-garde in a military sense, meaning “advanced guard,” the group of soldiers who took the lead in battle. They were the ones who suffered the most painful losses since they stood at the front lines, but they were also the ones to forge the way to victory, to cross borders ahead of others, and to investigate enemy territory so they could outsmart their opponents. By considering the word’s origin, we can see the impact the concept can have on us when we dare to employ it for ourselves. By taking risks and leading the charge on the front lines of experimentation and progress, we can reach essential breakthroughs in our creative endeavours.

Others, in the past and present, have benefited from this kind of motivated, perilous creativity. The invention of cars, light bulbs, and even the more recent decentralised economic approaches—social media and artificial intelligence—have all transformed industries and our daily lives. Just because most people believed these things couldn’t succeed or weren’t worth the time invested in them doesn’t mean the ideas shouldn’t have been tried.

You too can push past resistance and dare to be different. Breaking out of the societal constructs and even out of your own comfort zone will allow you to test boundaries and challenge the status quo. Instead of remaining locked in the system, trying to force innovation to occur, you need to let go and explore the endless opportunities ahead of you.

You can pursue creativity either horizontally or vertically. Horizontal creativity is simple; you optimize the given. This is “the art of being right.” Your other option is to exploit the full potential of your avant-garde, the vertical creativity we call “breakthrough innovation” where we tap into the unknown. This belongs to “the art of being wrong.” Although vertical progress is hard to imagine because it requires doing something nobody else has ever done, you can only transform the world as we know it by seeking this potential via your avant-garde.

Most people remain unaware of the potential they have and the fact that they themselves can become a leader and shaper of—at least their own—change. Es ist niemandem bewusst, welchen unfassbaren Einfluss man auf die eigene Realität haben kann, und genau dieses Potenzial gilt es zu erwecken. No one knows the full extent of the influence we have on our own reality, and it is precisely this potential that needs to be awakened. Today, the avant-garde—Handlungshelden—is sought everywhere.

Here are four steps to awaken the potential of your inner avant-garde.

BECOMING A LEADER OF CHANGE

Strive for Freedom
To achieve the vertical thinking necessary for a dynamic avant-garde mentality, you have only one rule to follow: “THERE ARE NO RULES.” A member of the avant-garde must be driven, organized, and structured by itself, which means there has to be room for sudden changes and untried methods. This is your task.

Find Your Fellow Avant-Gardists
For the inspiration and the suggestions necessary to help you come up with sustainable ideas, involve those who show signs of vertical creativity: artists, daydreamers, freaks, and even people who the world writes off as incapable of functioning normally, like those with autism. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the community of independent thinkers. Never forget that there is always hidden potential in those around you; find ways to uncover and then support this potential.

Accept the Radical
Speculation leads to creation. Sometimes the strangest thoughts can lead to the greatest ventures—but those ideas are often stamped out by those who support the status quo.

Develop the Right Atmosphere
Creation is a messy, edgy process that is anything but linear. You must be prepared for setbacks, failures, and conflicts. Foster enjoyment of this process instead of impatience. Creativity is a chaotic, unconventional process that is anything but linear. You must be prepared for setbacks, failures and conflicts. Encourage the joy of this process. Diverse groups that focus on collaborative work will always run the risk of conflict and uncomfortable situations. Learn to accept this and allow the group as a whole to figure out how it must proceed. Every now and then, you will hit rock bottom—but don’t be afraid of the corresponding pain. Don’t think of it as a weakness. This vulnerability is the birthplace of all forms of innovation. Eventually, something new arises, and a positive environment allows those ideas to come together and gather momentum. Production and creativity thrive in the right environment. Just showing up and working toward your goal is crucial for any progress, but an atmosphere that encourages ingenuity helps your innovative troop to excel. You must find and sustain the essential environment for creative thinking and experimentation. It’s not about building a “failure culture” or “accepting failure.” We strive for perception. We want to have a performance culture. But within the space where we push beyond the known and embrace being wrong as an art form—the art of being wrong—we find the conscious experience of learning in itself. This is the foundation of (positive) progress.

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