Creating the future.

Creating the future sounds like a good idea. We are in good company if we think in this direction. Abraham Lincoln said it succinctly when he said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” 

All the good business experts agree. You have to have a vision,  a why you do what you do, a defined outcome.

Even though this sage advice is available freely, I am often surprised by the absence of it in the lives of my clients.

As I reflect on this observation, I realize that distinguishing between the plethora of nuances around creating the future, vision, mission, purpose, outcomes, goals, destiny, etc. It all boils down to imagining a different future.

We could even add a specific accent. It believes in a different future.

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Be aware of pitfalls while creating the future

This future-mindedness is not without pitfalls. Just dreaming about what can be, without taking responsibility to do something about it, either result in resentment or cynicism. It can also be escapism.  All of which results in no change.

Another pitfall I find people have to deal with is FOMO. Fear of missing out. Too many options lead to not doing anything. I am well aware of this in my own life. Seeing opportunities and not knowing which one is the best, often lets me tread water.

The biggest challenge I find is the ability to take people with you. If the new future you see stays inside your head, it is of no value but to yourself. And although this is good when it has a personal focus, the drawback of this approach is that it limits the future only to yourself.

An actual game-changing vision goes beyond ourselves.  Those who see a future that improves not only their own lives but those around them as well makes history.

This seeing beyond yourself includes big visions like the one Dr Martin Luther King had as well as a sales team understand that they are closing sales, not only for their commision but also to put the Personal Assistant’s child through college.

The latter, I find are the most relevant. Make the changed future relevant and personal to the people you want to take with you. Share it with them and invite them to join you in creating a better future.

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How what we know holds us back

It might just be that what we know is holding us back. This doesn’t sound right, does it? The conventional wisdom is that the more you know the better off you are.

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This is mostly true. What I am referring to is the part that falls outside of the mostly. Something that is an actual scientific confirmed human error called: “Confirmation bias”.

Confirmation bias is simply the name for us seeing what we believe to be true. More specifically, this bias drives us to seek information that is compatible with beliefs we currently hold. We will read a post on Facebook that confirms what we believe is true. We either never see or ignore those that tell us something different. This results in our knowledge about a certain subject to grow stronger.

This not a bad thing if you want to specialize in your field of choice. In fact, when I need a hip replacement, I want my friend, who is the leader in orthopedic hip replacements, to do the operation. There is nothing wrong with specialization. As long as we also acknowledge the danger of over-focusing on one subject alone.

Our brain is wired to pay attention to detail as well as be aware of the bigger picture. Specialization is the process of zooming in on only the detail part. The detail then becomes our world and we are mesmerized by the wonders and beauty of a single subject. Please enjoy this awe-inspiring experience. Just remember that there is a whole world outside that experience. Come to the surface and see the bigger picture as well.

The danger of only focusing on what you know is that the richness of life, the innovation, the solution of a persistent problem, waits for you in the field of what you do not know. Not keeping this door open while you focus on the detail, strengthens the confirmation bias and it is the bias that that holds us back. The problem with this bias is that it tends to infuse the person suffering from this bias with self-righteousness.

As we all know, self-righteous people are not very productive members of society. They usually are stuck in one place and struggle to change and adapt to an ever dynamic environment.

My invitation then for all of us to check and see if we are keeping ourselves back by suffering from what we know. Let us explore that what we do not know. Speak to those we disagree with in such a way that we have a better understanding of them and their point of view (Without necessary changing ours. Sometimes other peoples’ point of view is not that great).

Happy exploring

H

 

Move your boundaries

“I move boundaries” was the answer I had to give a stranger when he asked me what is a unique attribute I had.

Boundaries are important. Especially personal boundaries. They keep us safe. The keep relationships healthy. They help define us. But they also limit us and hold us back.

The challenge is to know when to keep your boundary in place and when to allow yourself or someone to step over it. Or you could move your boundary. Moving your boundary is something different than crossing it or not keeping it in place. To move your boundary is to expose yourself to an experience you have not have previously.

Stepping over a boundary implies that you can step back. That is to be assertive and keep the status quo. Not having a boundary or not keeping it in place is unhealthy. Moving your boundary is an internal stretch. It asks that you test your assumptions and replace ineffective assumptions with ones that are more in touch with  a new reality. One that includes the experience that you explored.

Kio Stark gives an inspiring talk on talking to strangers. It is good to be friendly, and it’s good to learn when not to be, but none of that means we have to be afraid.

She highlights the difference between perceptions and categories. Categories lead to bias. Perception is the use of  our senses to connect with the individual. When you connect with a stranger in this way, you move your boundary. “So, here it is. When you talk to strangers, you’re making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life and theirs.” Now you have an experience and a story to tell. You have moved your boundary.

How about it? Are you willing to explore? Tell  me how it played out for you.

Still exploring

H

 

 

Economics is for Everyone

In this powerful illustration economist Ha-Joon Chang explains why economics is for everyone.

It does ask that we start thinking about our current reality. I love the it that Chang asks us to look at the world through more than one of the 9 economic lenses available.

Just accepting the viewpoint given to us by the mainstream media keeps us where we are. But for our owns sake, we really need to start looking at our world differently, try to envision a new and better alternative and then take the first step towards this better alternative.

What this alternative could be, is still open in my mind and any contribution is welcome. Let me know what you think.

Thinking

H

Use both hands

It is natural to use both hands if you have two hands. We often get by using one hand with simple tasks, but life gets complicated when you only have one hand and the task at hand asks for two.  Ever wondered why we have two?

We have two of most things and if we don’t it’s seen as a handicap or disability. It seems the world works better with two legs, two hands, two eyes etc. So I find it fascinating that we do not carry this paired competence into our thinking.

We tend to get stuck on one perspective at a time, while most things work in opposites – warm or cold, light or dark and good or bad. We tend to think something is either good for us or bad for us. This black or white thinking is not something new. It is just fascinating that so many people still think only in these single polarities. This while we all know there are a lot of grey between the black and white.

I recently watched an interesting TED video in which Linus Torvalds was interviewed. What a beautiful person. I am impressed with the level of comfort he had with himself and his generous choice for open source software.

For me the power moment in the video is when he says “I’m perfectly happy with all the people who are walking around and just staring at the clouds … but I’m looking at the ground, and I want to fix the pothole that’s right in front of me before I fall in.”

In my mind, this is powerful because it highlights our tendency to focus on one side at a time. We like visionary things. It speaks to what is possible and I am 100% for having a great vision. Yet, we need to fix the pothole in front of us as well. At the same time we cannot fixate on the potholes that we lose sight of where we are going.

We need to use both hands. Each one of us has the ability to have a vision, hold it and work on what to do today to fix the problem that birthed the vision in the first place.

Another interesting video by Knut Haanaes presents the tension between exploration and exploitation in BUsiness. And again he suggests we do both.

“So let me leave you with this. Whether you’re an explorer by nature or whether you tend to exploit what you already know, don’t forget: the beauty is in the balance. “ – Knut Haanaes