It takes real discipline to learn from the past, look beyond the current condition and envision a future that is by definition different from today. It comes naturally to a handful of gifted people and they are fascinating to meet. For example, last year I was lucky to hear futurist Ariane van de Ven speak at a conference. Ms. van de Ven has an ability to synthesize current trends and offer a compelling outlook based on her observations.
Most of us, however, do not have that capacity. Our worldview is shaped by our experiences (with heavy weighting on our current situation). This means that when we are struggling with a boss who doesn’t understand us, we can’t even envision the day a new boss (or different career opportunity) appears on the scene. Likewise, if the economy is challenged, it feels like things will only get worse (and visa-versa). We see this on a global level, where various economists have been chasing a non-existent threat of inflation for years simply because that’s a threat they grew up with in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.
It’s important to keep this blind spot in mind in every situation so we can remain realistically optimistic about the future and open to its unexpected possibilities.
What Am I Reading?
Do we really need another “zombie” story? I know they’ve been all the rage for several years and I almost passed on The Girl With All The Gifts in part because I feared that there wasn’t much new to discover in the genre. Fortunately, I trusted the glowing reviews and dug into the book, which is a fascinating look at human and not-quite-human relationships. And isn’t that what the best science fiction does? It presents us with a world different from our own yet filled with striking similarities from which we can better understand the human condition.