Most business analysts attempt to predict the future by analysing past patterns and extrapolating them in to a state of favourable future conditions. However, past experience shows us that this approach doesn’t always work. Although historic patterns do tend to repeat, our constant search for newness often invites the unpredicted into our lives. Rather than arriving in a long awaited and neatly packaged parcel, the future usually arrives in our current reality in the form of sudden flashes of insight and unexpected fragments of opportunity.
In planning for the future, the unexpected is usually associated with unpleasant surprises. When the unforeseen inevitably occurs, we repeatedly try to ignore it. If it’s not in the plan, it can’t exist. Rather than exploring these unanticipated opportunities, we retreat back into the comfortable past, waiting for the future to arrive and set us free. But the more we try to hold on to the old, the more that fragments of the future begin to appear unexpectedly in our lives.
We first become aware of the future in our dreams. Our unconscious awareness beams out from us in time as well as space and usually begins to sense the future before we become consciously aware of it. Like our dreams, the future arrives in seemingly disconnected fragments that we usually filter out because they seem to make little sense to us. We hear these fragments all around us in snatches of conversation, and see them in signs that we are not allowing ourselves to notice yet. As Henry David Thoreau observed, ‘Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven’.
These flashes often illuminate surprising insights and all of a sudden we see what is new. Our insight may appear to be a stroke of absolute genius, but usually all we have done is to notice something that we have been unconsciously aware of for sometime. It may seem to have happened suddenly, but like most overnight sensations, it has probably been knocking on the door of our conscious awareness for years. Although our inventive genius may seem like a solitary pursuit, its success usually depends on how many conversations we are engaged in and truly listening to what we are saying and hearing.
The more conversations we are in, then the more connected we will be. And the more connected we are with ourselves and others, the more easily we will be able to connect all the fragments of the future that are continually arriving in our lives. All these fragments are fundamentally connected, and they all reflect what our future looks like. By connecting the fragments that have most meaning for us, it can be surprisingly easy to release ourselves and create the future that we want to be in.