Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges The Shattered Tin Man Midst the Shock and Awe in Mid-21st Century Societies I: Shattering and Shock

The Shattered Tin Man Midst the Shock and Awe in Mid-21st Century Societies I: Shattering and Shock

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Our 21st Century Dorothy would have been well-advised to assume an accommodating perspective. She could have learned from her early mistakes and identify the actual reasons why things were not going well for her. Similarly, Mose Feldenkrais could have taken on the role of learner (accommodator) as he discovered ways to expand on his existing work while retraining his foundational perspective and practices (assimilation). Our Tin Man might similarly have taken time to learn about the real world and adjust his perspectives and practices to this reality—rather than seeking to distort reality (so that he would not have to either learn or adjust). Each of us living in the mid-21st Century might similarly emerge from the constraints inherent in our preferred shard so that we might take a free breath and look at reality from multiple perspective.


Complexity entails the multiplex of forces, the apparently contradictory information flow, the sensitive interdependence of everything we touch, leading to the sense of confusion in which it’s hard to make smart decisions. Children who make use of TikTok and other media will find the complexity of 21st Century life to be baffling. They are often protected from this complexity by parents who limit their access to media and many of the challenges posed by the outside world. The complexity for them might also be buffered by the feel-good or silly programs they find on their TV set. Sadly, the same strategies are also to be found by those at the other end of the age-spectrum. Grandpas are buffered by “news” stations that offer only one side of the story (often the right-wing side). They also might protect themselves (like their long-matured children) by staying at home and avoiding any dissenting source of information. The Coward Lion would follow suit.

This symbol of courage and ferocity would find it hard to adjust to the complexity of 21st Century life. The lion would find it much easier and more comfortable to assume power and force his reality on other people rather than recognizing and adjusting to the 21st Century world’s complexity. He could truly have become a brave and valuable leader if he had sought to lead on behalf of this complexity rather than seeking to block all changes required of this complexity. Perhaps Wilhelm Reich could have retained an appreciation for the complexity he found in the character armament of the patients he was treating rather than “discovering” the simplicity of orgasms, communist doctrine or UFO threats.

We can envision a new graph concerned with complexity. A Left Column perspective on Complexity would center on being Clear-Minded in the midst of confusion. The central concern is sorting out what is most relevant and most easily confirmed while dancing with reality. Dorohty certainly could have benefited from this perspective. The opposing Right Column perspective on Complexity would center on being Open-Minded in the midst of confusion. From this perspective, we would be primarily concerned with recognizing and holding on to the multiple realities that reside in the dance with reality.

Coaching and consulting services, as well as teaching, can be appropriately and effectively used in addressing this polarity through encouragement and even facilitation) of the slow, reflective thinking that is described and advocated by behavioral economists – particularly Daniel Kahneman (2011). Slow thinking incorporates both clarity of mind (identifying and setting aside biases and sloppy heuristics) and open-mindedness (consideration of alternative perspectives, practices and options). In the midst of pervasive anxiety associated with Complexity (and the other aspects of VUCA-Plus), it is critical that thinking and decision-making slow down.

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