by Joel Burgess

It is not our feet that move us along-it is our minds. – Ancient Chinese proverb

As we approach Christmas and the harsh Michigan winter, I was thumbing through Charles Swindoll’s aptly named 1985 book, Come Before Winter .and Share my Hope. In his “period of preparation” section, an idea that really caught my attention was entitled MegaChanges.

MegaChanges uses an inverted-L curve to show just how accelerated the changes occurring today truly are. For instance, looking at 3 examples:

The growing number of people – It took until 1850 for the world’s population to reach 1 billion; by 1930 the number doubled, by 1960 it reached 3 billion, and today there are over 6 billion people, with the number continuing to rise.

The number of books published – There were only 35,000 books published by 1900, and today over 400,000 books are published annually . Again the number continues to rise.

The speed of human travel – In 1800, the top speed was 20 mph on horseback. With the train the speed increased to 100 mph. In the early 1950’s, passenger jets took us to 300 plus mph; by 1980 that number doubled, and today I’m not even sure what top speed is. I heard that a jet was successfully clocked at over mach 7. (Sidebar: 1961’s space flight clocked at 16,000 mph.)

John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends , suggest ten trends with the most significant impacts on life as we know it, the biggest of which is the transformation of our society from an industrial society to a information society. Think about the inverted-L curve for available information.

What an impact this collection and organization of data has on all fields of discipline, including economic development.

A vital question is, given the accelerated changes happening all around us, how do we initiate and create policies and programs that give us a framework to stay flexible and adapt to these changes?

The answer is remarkably simple: ground ourselves in timeless truths– truths that when followed equal success. Wisdom, vision, boldness, respect, teamwork, flexibility, dedication, and courage are ancient but valuable watchwords.

Achieving these qualities is easier said than done I realize, but nonetheless, they are honorable and required aspirations. These truths should not be up for grabs .