Given the access to the same technology and knowledge, coupled with the hunger for rapid growth, the developing world is fast catching up to the developed world in just about every way – according to Fredrick Härén in this book The Developing World.

Here’s the model I had in my head as I was reading this book (my words below too):

There is a great hunger for the developing world to bridge the gap between (1) and (2). The big question Härén raises here is: Is there a similar hunger in the developed world to step from (2) to (3)?

Is the developing world actively engaged in envisioning, planning and acting towards (3)? Or will we see a world where everyone is high on complacency crammed in on (2).

On a personal level, as I am currently evaluating the next step in my life’s work: Do I want to work in (1) or (2)? Are there other alternatives?

(1) is clearly where the fast-paced, anything-is-possible action is. But my work will likely be towards achieving parity with (2), at least in the near term. Without meaning to sound arrogant or dismissive, this has a certain ring of “been there done that” about it. But the achievements could be more wow in terms of speed and scale. And for the same work, the financial rewards will likely be higher.

The down sides of (1) are: Life will be harder. Ethics are more malleable. Social rules and laws are different and can be less evolved (sorry, there is no more polite way to put this). I will need to be more consistently tolerant and put up with more things that disturb or annoy me. And it will be harder to find like-minded people to learn from and grow with.

In rare cases I may be working to leap-frog (2) altogether. I have labelled this (4) in the diagram. Working to envision and build a better world than what the developed world currently offers today? THAT would be a WOW job!

Working in (2) will be relatively slower going. It is all too easy to rest on the already-laid laurels. Established best practices and systems need to be appeased before progress can happen. The financial rewards may not be as significant (but it will be sufficient).

Imagining and working towards a new and better future IS exciting. This part is clear to me. And the access to genuinely unexplored territory and yet-unthought thoughts is more likely in (2). As is the overall quality of life for me.

There is a possibility for a (1.5) – where I spend 80% of my time in (2) and the remaining 20% in (1). This hybrid scenario could give me the best of (1) and (2).

Does this also at the end of the day boil down simply to a quality of life decision?

Given my personality, interests and where I am in my life, I am perhaps more likely to have a better quality of life (better work life balance) in a developed world (2), than I would in a developing world (1). I would enjoy the energy and pace, the crowds and chaos, in (1) but only in short bursts.

I recognise this is a simplified model with simplified assumptions. Serendipity could (and probably will!) change everything anyway. So I am not making any major decisions as yet. Maybe this post will give someone somewhere a new and useful thought.

Sidenote: (3) contains my thoughts/vision for the brave new world. What are yours?