It’s easy to believe in the status quo. The existing state of affairs can seem so intractable. Forces can feel beyond your control or ability to influence in any way. Yet, that is exactly what leaders seek to do: change the future. And to do that, they invent it.
Inventing the future sounds like a mysterious and magical process, but actually each of us is engaged in this activity every day. The problem is that most of us invent a future that matches our yesterday. We take the past, and believing it to be the way things are and have to be, we reinforce it with our expectations and behavior.
There is another path. Here are four ways to create a better future:
1. Invent What You Know to be Possible.
When everyone else was skeptical and he lost money year-after-year, he did not deviate from what he knew to be true. Now he has succeeded.
Answer this question: What future is calling to me that requires my participation to emerge?
2. Where There is Pain, Go for Gain.
Jim Wolfensohn was president of the World Bank when he introduced the Comprehensive Development Framework that gave equal weight to social indicators.
At first he was chided for his naïveté. Then, he was told it wasn’t his idea. Through his persistence social indicators are now de rigueur and today the world is one giant step closer to measuring success by the smile on a child’s face.
Answer this question: Where have we failed that we now know enough to succeed?
3. Put Your Resources Where It Makes a Difference.
Lynne Twist, a founding executive of the Hunger Project, pioneered a new wealth paradigm that helps ordinary people invest in what they care most deeply about. Her work has brought her shoulder-to-shoulder with Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama as well as corporate giants.
She spawned a new, highly successful model of fund-raising, captured in her book, The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resouces, which she has used to raise over $150 million for a variety of causes.
Answer this question: What am I spending my life on that is worth such a high investment?
4. Use Your Mind’s Innate Power
Physicist, David Bohm, recognized the power of thought to construct our world and spent the last years of his life urging people to develop mental proprioception.
It is proprioception that allows you to know your hand is clenched when you make a fist behind your back. You can’t see it, but you can feel it. Bohm was concerned that people did not know what their minds were doing, and that humanity was wreaking havoc by blundering around in unquestioned mental constructs.
When you appreciate how much of our world first sprang from the imagination of others, you see the great power of thought to bring new forms into the world. This happens when you dream, think, discuss, and imagine.
Answer this question: Where is my attention and where could it be?
The future is not certain. If it were, we’d all be at the race tracks. Yet, day-to-day most of us behave as if the possibilities were limited. The future belongs to those who know otherwise. For our children’s sake, join their ranks.