When I think about what helped me find success, what intrinsic qualities I had to have to do what I do -- which is study the future -- I know that one of the most important things I can bring to that is objectivity.  Because once you have an opinion about what’s going to happen, you can no longer find things that are true, you only look for things that track your own opinion. 

So how objectivity came to me, I think, was probably because I was raised in foster homes and when you go as a child from home to home you realize very quickly that what this family says is the absolute reality and truth is contradicted by the next home you live in, like "this is the way you make spaghetti."  "No, no, no, this is the way you make spaghetti!" "This is the way you observe this holiday."  "No, this is the way you observe this holiday."

You realize that everybody has their own reality and if people have their own reality in the same borough of New York in the same religion during the same era, then what must be true of people who live 50 miles away, 1000 miles away, halfway around the world, 100 years ago or 100 years from now?  Those realities are all very different, and so once you come to grips with the fact that so many things are based on what you’ve been taught or what you think is so, you get a little bit further toward objectivity, and the future then becomes a little clearer as you study the things that are going on that take you there. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock