At any given moment, there are events within our control and out of our control. There are areas we can influence, and areas we cannot. As an optimistic futurist, I focus my attention and efforts on finding areas where we can influence a positive outcome. This does not mean I am unaware of and don’t recognize the many different possible negative future scenarios, just that my efforts are always going to be focused on finding and achieving paths toward a more positive outcome.
The global COVID-19 pandemic is a timely point of reference. I read all the distressing news and projections and have deep concerns, but my response is to immediately look for and identify what can be done to both mitigate the risk and to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Imagine sitting in a canoe full of your dearest family members drifting quickly toward a dangerous waterfall. We can choose to focus our attention on all the possible negative future scenarios of going over the waterfall, or we can focus on influencing and achieving a positive outcome that involves shaping our future to something purposefully positive.
We need the clarity and wisdom of recognizing all the possible negative scenarios and consequences, but once we have that recognition, we should focus on shaping the outcome to something purposely positive. Wouldn’t you agree? Some might say futurist are better off being objective spectators, but I want a futurist to throw me a rope.
Doomsday futurist are often secretly hopeful they’ve got it right. They sit back and wait for the canoe to go over the waterfall…as they predicted. Optimistic futurist, identify, reverse engineer and rehearse both positive and negative possible future scenarios to learn what needs to be done today to purposefully influence our path to achieve the best possible outcome.
My Futurist boss here at TCS, Frank Diana, always says, “It is impossible to predict the future — anyone who tries is on a fool’s errand.” There are simply too many building blocks of the future including, science, technology, societal, geopolitical and economic converging together, plus catalysts of change (think pandemic), mixed into this giant pot of stew we call the future. Exactly what comes out can be guessed at, but not predicted. At best we can identify a range of possible and plausible future scenarios to consider and rehearse.
Given that we can’t predict the future — let’s identify the future we want and do everything possible and purposeful to achieve it.