One of the key elements of my 25 steps “Foresight Leadership” process is determining inclination towards the past and the future. I get both a cultural and personal read of both individuals and the team’s sense of “time” – which can either be linear (time moves from past through the present to the future), parallel (time moves in different directions on parallel tracks at different rates), perpendicular (time moves in different ways for different spaces, ), or meshed (past, present, and future all happen simultaneously) or any combination thereof.
I start this determination with two simple questions:
How do you feel about the past?
How do you feel about the future?
When you look back at what has happened before, do you linger? Do you spend mental energy “living” in the past? Is the past like a “jukebox of memories” in which you spend time replaying memories over and over? Do you pull out all of the memories, or do you play more positive ones than negative ones? How much time do you spend in the past on a typical day, week month? Do you long for the “good old days,” wistfully thinking that the past was better than the present and that things have been on a downwards slope?
Do you love the past – and would rather live in it – or do you despise the past and wish it would go away? Do you look at the past as something that can never be repeated, or do you see it and something you can learn from? Do you feel that history repeats itself – and that something that worked in the past will work again and something that failed in the past will fail again? How much does the past inform your current thinking about the future?
A lot of questions. But I need to get a good read on how much you feel the past affects your present and future. How much of the past do you want to repeat, how much you want to forget, and how to work that into mapping your ideal future? I dig deep into your thoughts and feeling about the past. This is the “feels” part.
Next, we talk about your thoughts and feelings about the future.
Are you excited about the possibilities of the future? Can you see that the future is full of promise and if you make the right moves, at the right times and the right places, that your future will be bright? Are you deeply thrilled about what is about to come – or are you full of trepidation? Are you deeply fearful about what the future might hold? Do you think that things are getting better or worse?
Do you feel that you can change the course of the future via your actions? Are you more of a believer in free will – that your agency drives your actions and that you have the agency to change the course of your future – or are you more of a determinist – that you are a leaf in the stream and your environment and consequences dictate your actions? Few are extreme in one direction or the other – everyone is on a spectrum. I determine where you are on that spectrum.
Depending on where you are on the spectrum, I help move you towards the side of free will. Without a strong sense that your actions CAN change your future, there is no need to continue.
At a job interview once, I was asked, “what kind of futurist are you?” At first, I thought, “Is there more than one kind?”. Thinking more deeply on this issue, I realized that there are many different kinds of futurists.
Here are a few of them: There is the pessimistic futurist, who opines how the world will get worse, and there’s me, who can see the myriad optimistic possibilities and opportunities around us. There is the “armchair futurist” who does all the right things to create scenarios of the future – but never works to make them happen.
Then there is my kind of futurist. The optimistic, activist futurist. The kind that envisions a better future then works tirelessly to make that future happen.
That’s the kind of futurist you need to become. No matter where on the spectrum you are – I help you get closer to that goal:
To become someone who can imagine their ideal future, then forge it.