The Future Belongs to the Adventurist

It’s 2036. 20 years ago we were all waiting with baited breath for virtual reality, artificial intelligence, driverless cars, nano medical technology, replaceable organs, and robots to help us make dinner.

That seems so archaic now…

My friend and thought leader extraordinaire Mykel Dixon believes that “The Future Belongs to the Artists”. Whereas I agree that the future needs the raw, juiciness of original thought and vibrant authenticity, I think we also need the rugged curiosity of the Adventurist.

Jeff Kowalski says we will experience more change at work in the next twenty years than we have had in the previous 2000. Watch the video here. Prepare mind to be blown.

Are you ready?

Most of us are woefully under-prepared. Here’s why:

1. Curse of Now. We are too busy dealing with now to think about next. This is the disease of busy-ness.

2. Learned helplessness. Thinking about the future can be terrifying. These is so much volatility and unknown. Radical leaps in all technologies, currencies, climate can make us feel powerless. If we let it.

3. Flabby imagination. Most of us have not been taught to deal with future possibilities. So we default to hysterical catastrophising, naïve sheep-like follow-ism, or blissful ignorance.

We are in a giant, surging river of change, and if we don’t work out how to navigate it, we will get dumped from our boat, and be cast to the mercy of the current.

This is what we need:

Attitude: We need an Adventurist mindset. We need to be curious and intrigued about what’s around the bend in the river. We also need to learn to read the threats, how to listen for waterfalls, how to see a drop on the horizon that signals potential hazards, or the potential fun ride of rapids.

Aptitude: We need mapping skills. We need to learn how to map the current reality, assess trends, and map future possibilities. These are hitherto been the domain of the wild and often weird futurist. All of us need the thinking tools of the futurist. They are the new map and compass for the modern leader. In his remarkable book, The Light and Fast Organisation, Patrick Hollingworth asserts that these are now the fundamental leadership tools for organisations to remain agile in volatile conditions.

Application: We need to undertake expeditions. The only way to see what’s around the corner is to test the waters. Short little trips to explore what’s ahead will helps us chart a safe route. We do this by making a short range plan or project, testing its viability, and then deciding whether to launch the boats. In his book, How to Lead A Quest, Dr Jason Fox describes this as experiments. Keep testing, getting feedback, and evaluating.

Most of us do not choose our attitude and default to the common denominator of those around us. Most of us aren’t taught to think about the future or take time out to entertain possibilities in a structured way. Most of us are simply implementing business as usual and calling it ‘progress’ because we made more money than last year.

Make no mistake, the future world exists now, downstream through a whole heap of turbulence. If we’re going to navigate it safely, we had better learn to paddle.

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