As an endurance runner we most often have clear signals that the body needs rest or fuel. The signals usually start with more subtle hints, a niggle here, a slight feeling of weakness.
When we fail to pay attention to these signals, they get louder. If we continue to ignore them, then we will get collapse. And the collapse will usually mean a period of complete rest by necessity. Complete rest is the most painful, frustrating experience an obsessed runner is forced to endure.
Collapse is good when it is the only way to get us to stop. For many times stopping is vital to our continued existence. This is true for runners, lovers, business owners, politicians and economists.
Failure to heed the subtle signals that become overt signals will lead to collapse and breakdown.
Almost everyone I have ever spoken to will retrospectively view the period of collapse and breakdown as one of the best turning points of their life. Painful, difficult, but by its very nature, requiring a deeper level of inquiry that usually partners stopping.
Take this human condition of the requirement to breakdown and collapse before we contemplate deep change and apply it to the world we currently live in.
What are the signals about how we run our businesses, go to work, make things, spend our time, the economy? On the one hand we have a world where many (most) are ignoring the signals. And they are becoming very loud. On the other hand (minority) we have businesses that are thriving by deploying whole new ways of engagement and productivity. (It is for the purpose of exploring the signals, and seeing the landscape of the future, that a business hackathon is a smart move.)
At the level of the global economy, I am not so sure that anyone with any authority is actually really addressing the signals. Tinkering will not fix it when you have systemic cancer. Collapse, while painful for many, may simply be the best thing. It certainly won’t mean the end.