The Fourth Turning: What past generations can teach us about our future

Tony Robbins | July 1, 2022

There’s no denying that you and I are part of a significant inflection point in human history. We are living in interesting times. In this video you will see a 2022 conversation in front of a small audience with historian and demographer, Neil Howe, as we discuss: the patterns of human history, a long-view perspective on the current charge of events, and, most importantly, hope for our future.

If you’ve been with me before, you’ve heard me say that ANTICIPATION IS POWER and PATTERN RECOGNITION is a huge key to intelligent decision making. Neil Howe’s theory is all about the patterns of the past and what they suggest we can anticipate in the future.

Howe and his co-author William Strauss wrote two extremely impactful books – Generations (published in 1991) and The Fourth Turning (published in 1997). Strauss and Howe theory considers the 4-stage cycle that repeats every 80-100 years (approximately the length of a human life, also referred to as a saeculum).

Their books suggest four turnings of history:

1. A High

2. An Awakening

3. An Unravelling

4. (Culminating in) A Crisis

If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or uncertain about all that’s happening in the world, consider that a cycle of crisis predictably includes massive economic, cultural, political, religious, military, and broad institutional disruption. What can be helpful to remember in these times is that no storm lasts forever, and this too shall pass. Watch the video for Neil’s insights and predictions on how much longer this Fourth Turning will last.

NOTE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ THE BOOKS:

Additionally, one can consider four generational archetypes (a fancy word for patterns) of people born in the same era and coming of age shaped by the same historical events. The four archetypes Strauss and Howe use to describe generational cohorts are: Prophets, Nomads, Heroes, and Artists. So, for example, Millennials fall into the Hero archetype, while Gen Xers are Nomads, and Baby Boomers are Prophets. The generation born in or after 2005 are Artists. As each archetypal generation reaches the end of its 80-year lifespan, the cycle repeats.

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Tony Robbins is a #1 New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. For more than 37 years, millions of people have enjoyed the warmth, humor and dynamic presentation of Mr. Robbins’ corporate and personal development events. As the nation’s #1 life and business strategist, he’s called upon to consult and coach some of the world’s finest athletes, entertainers, Fortune 500 CEOs, and even presidents of nations.

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