In my recent New York Times bestseller, Flash Foresight, I share seven principles that can make invisible opportunities visible. Being able to direct your future is essential for success in both business and life.
As I’ve mentioned in past articles, hard trends provide accurate certainties about specific elements of the future—but combined with soft trends and your ability to influence them, how those elements play out is highly plastic. In other words, how your future unfolds is determined to a great degree by the choices you make, and those choices are determined largely by what you see in front of you.
Therefore, flash foresight starts with seeing the certainty of hard trends, and based on that, learning how to anticipate accurately. It also lets you see soft trends, as factors you can influence to shape a better future. But it’s not enough to see hard trends and soft trends, anticipate, transform, go opposite, skip your biggest problems, and reinvent yourself. These are all valuable and vital steps, but there is something larger and more embracing: you need to actively shape your own future.
I coined the term futureview several decades ago to refer to the mental picture we each hold of our future existence. This is not the same thing as a goal, plan, ambition, or aspiration. Futureview is not what you hope for or are trying to create—it is the picture you actually hold, for better or for worse, of what you expect and believe about your future.
Most people are not fully aware of what their futureview is. You have one—everyone has a futureview—but often without realizing it or examining what it looks like. But not being aware of it does not mean it doesn’t control you, because it most certainly does.
Becoming aware of your own futureview puts a tremendously powerful strategic tool in your hands. It gives you the controls of your own future. Your futureview determines which actions you’ll take, and which you’ll avoid taking. Different futureviews create different realities.
Therefore, as an executive, are you managing the futureview of your employees, regardless of current economic conditions? There are people working in your company right now who are already online or on the phone looking for another job. Why? Because of their futureview of working for your company. There are also people who are planning on staying. Why? Because of their futureview of working for your company.
Are you managing the futureview of your business partners, your suppliers, your investors? What about the futureview of your customers?
As a parent, are you managing the futureview of your kids? There are kids who are planning to go to college, and kids who are planning to go into drugs. What’s the difference? Their futureview.
Most companies put zero effort or energy into directing their people’s futureview, which means for all practical purposes, they put zero effort into directing their future. All the “strategic planning,” “scenario planning,” and other systematic approaches to designing an intended (read: hoped-for) future often fall short of the goal. In a world gone vertical, they typically come to nothing. Not without a clear focus on managing people’s futureviews.
Your futureview determines the future you. The vision you have of your future determines your behaviors, which determine your outcomes. In a very real sense, your futureview is everything. And yet it is something people seldom think about.
Therefore, always remember: Where you look is where you go. Where are you looking?
DANIEL BURRUS is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and innovation experts, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books including The New York Times best seller Flash Foresight.