A few weeks ago, I was in the mountains just outside San Francisco for the “Transformations of Natural Foresight” retreat hosted by The Futures School. Events like this take me to my happy place – which is out in nature surrounded by incredibly smart, talented, and inspiring people.
The overarching theme was designing a better future, both literally and figuratively. We learned how removing thought boundaries and suspending disbelief can make room for innovation and forward-thinking solutions. We challenged ourselves to break away from what we “know” to explore other truths and possibilities. We focused on the power of collective thought and how reality is usually a combination of our unique individual perspectives.
Needless to say, I left the retreat overflowing with notes, ideas, and inspiration. So, I’m excited to share a few key takeaways and standout concepts that will hopefully get your wheels turning like they did mine.
1. We can’t force a realization.
The funny thing about curiosity is that it requires being proactive and passive at the same time. It’s not enough to just sit back and wonder. There needs to be intentional efforts put toward finding “golden nuggets” of insight and information. But there also needs to be a quiet patience that allows room for those insights to emerge. If we try to force our way into realizations about life or business, we risk missing (or even suppressing) the very realizations we were hoping to come across. So, stay in motion enough to be in the right position. Then be still enough to let the realizations find you.
2. The best way to handle uncertainty is to embrace it.
I’m a big fan of Strategic Foresight and exploring possible future-world scenarios. The process is mapping out the scene as it exists today and consider variations of how the story might unfold. The benefits are wide-ranging, but what stands out is our ability to position and prepare for the unknown. If we use the information we have today to paint pictures of distant futures, whatever ends up happening becomes less of a surprise. But foresight lives in a world of “what ifs” and “maybes,” which means uncertainty must be an ally rather than an adversary.
3. Challenging what we know is a great way to grow.
I didn’t mean for that to rhyme but it’s pretty catchy, right? The point is, our thoughts and ideas are often based on outdated information. Personal knowledge and first-hand experience are invaluable assets, no doubt. But the conclusions they lead to are not always as accurate as we feel they are. It’s important we regularly challenge what we know. Seek to verify and validate with up-to-date insights. Growth happens when we expand our way of thinking, and a great place to start is where we’re most confident.
4. Cooperation drives evolution.
Looking back throughout human history, our greatest discoveries, inventions, and triumphs came about through teamwork. Even individual achievements were made possible by the efforts of someone else at some other point in time. In the modern and highly competitive world of today, the sense of self can overtake the sense of community. But the reality is, we can do more and go further by working together. John C. Maxwell said it best, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
5. The quickest route is Point A to B, but there’s still space in between.
To maximize efficiency and impact, choosing a straight line toward our goals makes sense. But even Points A and B still have open space in between. And within that space can be game-changing insights and opportunities, so long as we allow ourselves to slow down from time to time. By staying alert, aware, and open, we can progress along the quickest route while still growing and learning along the way.
I had initially started writing my “Top 10 Takeaways” but quickly realized there wasn’t enough room on the page for all my thoughts. So, I’ll be back next week to round out the list the second half of my top ten list.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can come together in designing a better future!