Who's future is it anyway?

What's not really yours; will never really be yours.

Who's future is it anyway?
Photo by Maxim Hopman / Unsplash

'The future' is a place that we never get to arrive at.

It's a construct in our minds that is always being pushed out as time marches on.

The only way you can possibly explore the various futures available to you in the present, is in your mind. The future is an idea.

Thinking about the future that you want (as in going about this formally in a strategy workshop), is a license a dream up whatever it is that you really want.

Having done it for years, and with all sorts of different kinds of groups - what is fascinating when working with teams and organisations - facilitating the thinking process during active visioning workshops - is just how guarded and conservative many people's thoughts about the future are.

This is of course totally understandable; our minds have been conditioned to think in a linear, stochastic way - we are unfamiliar with our ability to willingly reject 'business as usual' and embark on a new, crazy trajectory of open thinking.

Effective and constructive futures thinking comes from lots of conscious practice - it's an art that can be developed over time, or sped up in the hands of a good facilitator.

Getting to clarity takes a few rounds of thinking work.

Borrowed visions of the future

In round #1 the tentative visions of the future that are offered are often images that are being held to ransom by the assumptions and expectations of the perceived present.

These are visions of the future that have literally been hijacked by thinking about 'what we think other people want us to want.'

The futures that are imagined here aren't even our own - they belong to somebody else; we're just reluctantly borrowing them because we think we have to.

Daring to let go

Round #2 and onwards is a repeated cycle of increasingly letting go of tightly held assumptions and freely imagining more audacious ideas of what could be from the future.

The more these subsequent rounds uncover the true essence of what it is that is really desired by the group, the better the subsequent action plans will be wholeheartedly implemented.

The 'F*ck yeah!' test

The whole point of doing work with the future is to explore wildly desirable and better tomorrows. It's an opportunity to literally escape the pervasive gravitational pull of the present and launch your mind into a brand new orbit.

If you aren't walking away from a visioning workshop saying; 'F*ck yeah!' over and over in your mind, then chances are good that you didn't really land on the image of that future that will truly motivate you to achieve it.

You're probably leaving with an image that's not really yours - meaning that it'll never really be yours.