Our COOL meta-skills form the core of our Complexity Fitness curriculum.
COOL: Courage, Openness, Observing, and Lightness emerged over years of experience. Not only as we worked with clients to help them navigate uncertainty but also from our own lives. We noticed that those who managed to tap into Courage and Openness, who intentionally focused on noticing and Observing their contexts and their internal patterns, and who practiced Lightness managed to thrive in complex and uncertain times.
COOL, therefore, forms the foundation or core of our curriculum. The other skills and practices are all informed by a basic understanding of Complexity, COOL, and applied mindfulness practice.
These four COOL meta-skills are woven through and into all of our modules and learning units; they also guide how we “show up” as instructors. These, along with the other more tangible skills, enable an entangled, slightly messy, but always exciting and coherent learning experience.
Our fast-moving world invites us into a state of continuous learning, unlearning, and reinventing ourselves. This is true whether you are a mother, a CEO, an entrepreneur, or an artist.
It is also true for teams, organizations, and even societies.
The COOL meta-skills, help us assume a learning posture. On this you "learn how to learn", you learn to make sense and distinguish signal from noise. And perhaps most important, others get the opportunity to learn from you.
Complexity is unpredictable, we simply cannot know what will happen next. What we can do is to prepare ourselves with the skills and practices we need to deal with whatever comes.
Nassim Taleb coined the phrase "anti-fragile". It describes a person or system that becomes stronger when it goes through adversity. The plant pictured here is South African fynbos. Every time it burns, the plant multiplies and comes back stronger. This journey will reconnect you with skills you already have, and enable you to acquire new ones that will enable you to thrive whereever you are planted.
Being in perpetual uncertainty, the overwhelming amount of information clamoring for our attention, the pressure to do more with less ... all of this can start to wear us down.
Professional athletes don't have to continually perform at their peak like most of us have to, and yet they understand the important of rest and recovery time. Wellbeing and performance are not separate, they are two sides of the same coin. When we understand that we are in complexity, that we cannot control everything, that change is normal (and healthy), we can let go. The COOL meta-skills enable us to work and live smarter, and more in tune with natural rythms.
Sometimes when we find ourselves in uncertain and unpredictable places, facing challenges that seem to messy for us to comprehend, we can lose our sense of agency.
The skills and meta-skills of complexity fitness give us back that agency. We learn that we have a choice to contribute and to co-create. Understanding the patterns of complexity, can help us to shift from feeling future-fatigued, to being future-ready.
In the West, we often associate being cool with being fashionable or counter-cultural. In Africa, where the notion originated, it has a much deeper meaning.
Robert Thomson describes it as "an aesthetic of the cool in the sense of a deeply and complexly motivated, consciously artistic, interweaving of elements serious and pleasurable, of responsibility and of play. Manifest within this philosophy of the cool is the belief that the purer, the cooler a person becomes, the more ancestral (s)he becomes. In other words, mastery of self enables a person to transcend time and elude preoccupation. (S)he can concentrate upon truly important social balance and aesthetic substance, creative matters, full of motion and brilliance."
Woven into the African philosophy of cool is the ability to remain "cool" in adversity, respond mindfully (vs. reacting), appreciate beauty amid complexity, value humor and playfulness, and cultivate wisdom. When we speak of being COOL in complexity, we bring to mind this philosophy.
The diagram above showcases our standard curriculum. Each of the content areas is presented as online self-paced learning Quests. Our public courses follow this curriculum.
For organizational clients, each of the quests can be customized according to your specific needs. We have found that clients that align the content to their organization's strategic objectives or challenges benefit the most from the journey.
The central or CORE Quest (COOL) needs to be completed first. Then you can move on to the core Quests are Making sense of Complexity and Applied Mindfulness. From then on, you can choose which Quests you'd like to explore based on your current need.
In an organisation, our Complexity Fitness journeys are much more than a learning intervention. In addition to enabling future-ready skill acquisition, it offers multiple benefits including:
In designing and facilitating our learning journeys, we too commit to being über COOL:
“A purposeful pause is a mini-break in the momentum and speed of our mind and our days. Purposeful Pauses give us the space to reset and re-centre, and when we do, we’re more likely to make conscious choices about our work and our activities that are productive, creative, and compassionate. A purposeful pause interrupts the fog that gathers when we’re on autopilot, pushing our way through the day. It’s not all that hard to bring about a break in the clouds and when we do, we can gain a new perspective on each moment.” - Forbes Magazine
The exponential rate of change and information overload lead to lives of ‘continuous partial attention’. In a world with ever-increasing demands of deadlines, budgets, projects, diary-juggling, family, and school, it’s a miracle we’re not all batsh*t-crazy. We might not be entirely certifiable (yet), but we’re certainly not operating optimally.
Our sustainable performance is dependent on our ability to pause, to find time to reflect and observe our world. When we become the observer, we develop an increased ability to RESPOND rather than REACT to the demands of the external environment. Not only are we cleverer, but we also have a positive impact on burnout and resilience.
This ability to pause and observe is a skill, not an attitude, and needs practice. And we should practice it as often as possible. It is a fantasy that the long weekend and or the upcoming holiday could be our time to recover and rest. We must find that recovery time every day. Yes, there can be a small holiday in every day.
Hopefully you noticed the purposeful pause when you entered this website the first time. Maybe you just closed the pop-up. Next time, embrace the power of the break. ;)