I write this in the British Airways Departures Lounge at Dubai airport. Three days of sessions – with a corporate client in shipping & logistics followed by a morning of meetings and a 3 hour seminar for students at Hult International Business School.
The pace of change in Dubai is extraordinary. Having visited 3-4 times a year, every year, since 2002, (initially, to visit family, more recently on business) I’m struck by the speed with which new skyscrapers have shot up, roads carved and entire complexes have materialised.
It’s hard to identify a city that has undergone a more significant and radical phase of transformation than this city, hugging the entrance to the Arabian Gulf.
Well, on reading the above paragraphs, you’ll likely have envisaged material change: new buildings, new infrastructure and more. But, of course, change isn’t – cannot be – purely material. It implies change in people too. Shifts in mindset, willingness to embrace challenges, a daring and hunger for something bigger, better… invariably more profitable in the broad sense.
There’s a buzz in this city – as there is in any great urban centre: whether New York, London or Hong Kong. Yes, it’s reflected in the buildings and the goods available… but more than anything it’s characterised by the attitude, spirit and emotions of the people who live there. Over the past thirty years, Dubai has emerged from being a sleepy port to a regional hub to what I can now only describe as a global powerhouse.
Has this entailed problems? Of course. Is everyone happy with how things are now compared to how they were back in the 70s? Doubtless, no! But what there is is a vibrancy – a willingness to look to the future, to embrace change as a good; to view flux as part of life, rather than as something to be feared.
The same might be said for our own personal journeys through life. So, here’s the philosophical bit. Quite understandably, human nature very often drives us to fear change – the implications of the unfamiliar, the risks of the unknown. But in a world that’s developing as fast as our own, surely we have little choice but to take a deep breath and strike out.
In communication terms, that means willingness to apply new skills, constantly strive for new concepts, frameworks and/or content with which to connect with, influence and inspire those who matter.
One of my mentors speaks of being a lifelong learner – an empowering thought! In such a way, think of skyscrapers as forgeable not only from glass, steel and concrete, but from the skills, habits and emotions of the human spirit.