Yuval Noah Harari — 21 Lessons for the 21st century

Yuval Noah Harari

Historian Yuval Noah Harari got a lot of coverage for his most recent book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

In it, he talks about the disruptions that are coming from technology, politics, religion, immigration, terrorism, and war. He didn’t mention pandemics. But he did say that so much change is coming, he says, that almost the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty.

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

And though he didn’t mention pandemics, the advice he gives still holds true:

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 to achieve this more flexible mind: meditation, exercise, and connection with nature.

The Churning agrees these things are important. But for us they are only the first step.

For us, to gain the emotional intelligence needed to survive and thrive in the 21st century, so that you can use change to become stronger, requires you to learn and practice seven key skills:

  1. Learn how to stay centred and grounded even in the middle of massive change, remaining deeply connected to what is most important to you (use meditation, exercise, and nature to achieve this, as Harari recommends, as well as some other tools)
  2. Make clear sense of the situation: spot and remove your assumptions and learn to call on the power of your intuition
  3. Look for and find more opportunities in any situation (there are ten different types)
  4. Learn how to choose between them — even when you can’t predict how things are going to turn out
  5. Get clear on your Purpose and Values, because they will bring you stability, direction, and control when all around is changing
  6. Learn how to 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 to go through in the changes that are coming

When you become skilled at these seven competencies, you give yourself the best chance not only of surviving but also thriving in the changes that are coming. This is Inner Leadership.

Next Steps:

If you want to learn more about the changes that might or might not be coming (even Yuval says he can’t predict them) then read Yuval Noah Harari’s book.


If you want to start preparing for those changes now, no matter what they are, read Inner Leadership, use the workbook, and start doing the exercises.

It’s up to you.

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

You can sign up to daily posts here.

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.

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