Yuval Noah Harari — 21 Lessons for the 21st century

Yuval Noah Harari

In his most recent book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, historian Yuval Noah Harari talks about the disruptions that are coming from technology, politics, religion, immigration, terrorism, and war. He didn’t mention pandemics. But then he did say that so much change is coming that almost the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty.

He also talks about what we can do to prepare for these changes.

In this interview with GQ magazine, and elsewhere, he says:

“I think the most important thing is to invest in emotional intelligence and mental balance, because the hardest challenges will be psychological. Even if there is a new job, and even if you get support from the government to kind of retrain yourself, you need a lot of mental flexibility to manage these transitions.

“The most important investment that people can make is not to learn a particular skill—’I’ll learn how to code computers,’ or ‘I will learn Chinese,’ or something like that. No, the most important investment is really in building this more flexible mind or personality.”

He describes three ways that we can build this more flexible mind: meditation, exercise, and connection with nature.

The Churning agrees these things are important.

But we see them as only the first of seven key skills:

  1. Meditation, exercise, and spending time in nature are the first step to shifting your mind. (Creativity can help as well.) And then:
  2. In a world that no longer works the way it used to it is important to spot when you are making assumptions that no longer hold true and to call upon the power of your intuition to help you spot the new patterns that are emerging
  3. Learn to look for and find more opportunities in a situation (there are ten different types) — this brings flexibility
  4. Learn to get comfortable choosing between those options, even when you can’t predict how things are going to turn out
  5. Get clear on your Purpose and Values, because they are a way to bring stability, direction, enthusiasm, and adaptability when all around is changing
  6. Inspire yourself and the people around you to do what needs to be done
  7. Understand and manage the emotional transitions that you and the people around you will inevitably go through, so that you can build and maintain momentum

Yuval Noah Harari is right when he says that emotional intelligence and a flexible mindset are keys to the 21st century. But they are only the first step.

By becoming skilled at all seven competencies you give yourself the best chance not only of surviving but also thriving in the changes that are coming, and using change to become stronger.

This is Inner Leadership.

Nobody can’t predict what changes are coming. So doesn’t it make sense to learn a set of skills that prepare you for whatever happens?


Inner Leadership is a framework and tools for building inspiration during times of change.

You can sign up to daily posts here.

You can buy the book here and the workbook here.

(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)


Photo source: GQ magazine article

One Reply to “Yuval Noah Harari — 21 Lessons for the 21st century”

  1. Thanks George,
    I don’t know the detail of the Yuval Harari book. I haven’t read it and don’t intend to.
    I did like the high level interview I heard on Radio 4 — I agree that big changes are coming, even if we can’t predict what they are. And I think that preparing to handle those changes, emotionally / psychologically, is extremely important.

Leave a Reply