We live in fast changing and uncertain times. This is a great time to be an entrepreneur.
And yet those left behind from the twin forces of globalisation and technology advancements feel vulnerable and elect leaders who promise the old certainties of the past, who will “make America great again” or offer “strong and stable leadership”.
This is understandable because when your world is falling apart and the old certainties of the past are fast eroding, it is easy to be sucked into the bold rhetoric of strong leaders who tell you just what you want to hear.
You vote for them so they can fix your world. But it is not that simple.
The reality is that it is impossible to turn the clock back.
It is simply impossible to deliver on the old certainties of the past. And actually would we want to go back to the 50s and 60s?
Was it actually that great by today’s standards?
We are where we are: globalisation is irreversible despite the clamours for more localism and protectionism.
Car manufacture is integrated into a complex global, just in time supply chain network. It would make no sense in terms of quality, price and investment to retreat to the old days of trying to make everything in house or locally.
Similar supply chains work in countless other industries.
The relentless advance of technological improvements is unstoppable, you can’t un-invent the atom bomb once it’s been invented, you have to work carefully around how you deploy the technology.
Artificial intelligence will see more changes to the job market in the coming years, from driverless cars to legal case reviews, to medical diagnoses and every manner of things that we can’t currently conceive.
Where robots have reduced our need for manual labour, artificial intelligence will reduce our need for mental labour. We will need to apply ourselves to more heartfelt and purposeful work in the future, and that is no bad thing.
The transition however, as ever, will be difficult for many.
So when we vote for strong leaders promising certainty in an uncertain world it lets us off the hook; we can be rest assured that the leader will make it all alright again, and we don't have to do the hard work of looking at our own lives and making the tough choices to manage in uncertain and changing times.
In other words take responsibility for our own lives and businesses, be responsible, having the ability to respond in the face of changing conditions.
Maybe in future election cycles the challenges of increasing technology coupled with inherent irreversibility of global trade mean that the going back to old certainties will clearly be shown to be impossible and that we'll need to develop a new way of doing things.
Maybe then we’ll see the need for an enabling style of leadership: a leadership that understands it doesn’t have all the answers.
In an uncertain interconnected fast changing world pretending to have simple certainties is akin to lying, and maybe, just maybe we will start develop intelligent conversations about the challenges we face.
Until then the best we can do as individuals is to lead our own lives with increasing self-responsibility and a determination to deal with your own challenges in an intelligent and thought through way.