How Can I Be Sure in a World That's Constantly Changing?

Leslie Robertson, Founder and CEO of Open Audience has recently shared his thoughts on the future.


I am guessing most of us are spending our lockdown days with the radio playing in the background. Listening to music is a great release and engages large-scale neural networks across the entire brain.

I had a ‘stand still’ moment this week when David Cassidy’s hit from 1972, ‘How Can I Be Sure’, started playing.

Suddenly, I was overcome by flashbacks of people, places, and very strong emotions linked to that song from my adolescence.

In particular, the song reminded me of a friend, now gone, who loved David Cassidy and had multiple posters on her bedroom wall (I confess I was more of a Marc Bolan fan!).

It was a time when the future was not something I worried about, the steps ahead were fairly fuzzy, and I was at a stage in life where I felt I both had no control of the future and the possibilities were endless.

And this got me thinking about the songs of 2020 and how those currently playing will evoke both painful and positive memories of the Covid-19 pandemic in the future. It also got me thinking about the parallels between the uncertainty of adolescence and the current uncertainties of life, and the businesses and sectors in which we operate. 

A lot of the strategies, approaches and future plans that we have lovingly crafted within our roles and companies are tumbling, cracking, and disappearing before our eyes.

Yet there is an interesting parallel to the four stages of identity that an adolescent goes through, as set out by the psychologist James Marcia.

He suggested that there are four identity statuses. The first status is Identity Diffusion, which is essentially a stage where you do not know who you are and what you want in life! At this stage of development adolescents have no strong opinions, desires, or dreams for the future. He suggests that we think about this stage as a ‘boat upon the ocean without a compass’ (which ties in well with one of my other recent articles).

This feels like the stage the world is in right now.

We’re all a little bit lost, but we should try and move forward towards the fourth status, Identity Achievement, by using this time to have conversations, explore our options, and challenge our beliefs so that we gain a better understanding of who we are – as individuals and as organisations.

Like adolescents we should try to worry less about the future and what might be, and instead try to enjoy the moment and create great memories virtually that will last a lifetime.

As David also sang:

“How can I be sure?
I really, really, really, wanna know.”

We’ve learned in the last few months that nothing is for certain.

We wish we could predict the future. However, the future of events will be what it will be. We are planning that we will still be working together to help our clients engage their audience in the virtual, hybrid or physical world.

So, for all the friends, colleagues and clients we have around the world, take time to listen to the music that sparks your own memories and dreams.

With the phased end to lockdowns we can be a bit more relaxed now, knowing that we will continue to be a great business partner when we finally ‘grow up’ and make it out of the other side of Covid-19.


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