Read an Excerpt
Welcome to the Age of Possibility.
Welcome to the first time in the history of the planet when you truly can choose what you want to be, what you want to do, what you want to know, and where you want to go.
Welcome to a world in which reality is whatever we make it, a world in which you both can and must immerse yourself in your own possibilities, a world in which you -- you the person, you the business, you the organization, you the government, and you the society -- can write your own story and walk into it and become whatever it is you imagine yourself becoming. Life has never been easier, and because it has never been easier, life has never been more hard.
Emancipated from group-think and collective fate, people have the capacity today as never before to claim their own futures and to shape those futures to suit completely idiosyncratic wants and needs. You really are free, and as all truly free people are, you really are responsible. Fail to build your own future, and someone is going to build one for you, whether you want it or not. Fail to bind all the disparately emerging futures within your organization -- be it company, school, government, or family -- to a shared set of goals, and its future will be forfeit, too.
Our job as consultants is to help top executives look into the future and prepare themselves for the paradoxical nature of the world they must learn to operate in -- the world that lies just around the corner and the world that is waiting decades down the road. Far more than that, though, our job is to introduce CEOs and their companies to the tools we use as visionaries so that they can become the custodians of their own destiny. No onecan predict the future, but no one afford to be unprepared to meet whatever does arrive.
We can do the same thing for you and for your business. We can give you the same tools and show you the same frames of mind you'll need to master, and instead of charging you the tens of thousands of dollars consultants charge the corporate top brass, you will have had to pony up only the price of this book. But to become your own visionary, you will need to help yourself along the way. You can begin that process right now by taking the pretest below, and you can enhance the value immensely by being utterly honest with yourself, on this test and on all the tests and "Future Exercises" that follow. It's your destiny, not ours, that you are pursuing, and the only person you finally have to please is yourself.
PretestTotal Test Time:4 Minutes
This test consists of four sections. In the chapters ahead, you'll have time to ponder all four sections in for greater depth. For now, go with your gut and take no more than sixty seconds to complete each one.
- On a clean sheet of paper, freeze your reality at this precise moment in time and list all the things you are-not yesterday or tomorrow, but right now. This is your benchmark against which to measure future change.
- On a second sheet of paper, declare a major in your future by listing all the things you will be. This is the reality you hope to invent.
- For Section 3, start another list, your postulates about the future:"Things that have to be true in order for me to be what I will be." Fill the list out.
- Finally, write at the top of a fresh sheet of paper "The following things mark me as a radical among my peers." Take no more than sixty seconds to list them all.
When you're through with the pretest, store your answers somewhere handy. We're going to ask you to complete a similar exercise at the end of this book, and comparing those answers to these should give you a good road map of the trip you've taken through these pages. For now, though, give yourself a good pat on the back because you've just attacked the four critical issues in becoming your own futurist:
- You have to know who you are.
- You have to know where you want to go.
- You need to recognize your own seminal moments.
- And you must have an attitude of insurgency.
For a visionary, these four principles are the beginning of knowledge. You might not get where you want to go by following them, but you can't control your destiny without them.
A New Grammar
In this book, we also explore what it means to live not in the past or the present or even in the future, but to live in a new grammar: the future expressed in the present tense, because this is where and how we must live today, with a foot in both tenses.
Just as important, we invite you to be our colleagues on this exploration, to find yourself and the story of your business in the stories we have to tell, and to write your own story as we tell ours. There are times we ask you to do that literally, as we have just done: times when we encourage you to take out a pencil and pad and work an exercise. We hope you also jot notes in the margins as you read along and that you constantly inject yourself and your company into the anecdotes we tell and the situations we describe.The more you choose to participate as you read along, the more you are likely to have produced an accidental diary of your own future by the time you come to our final page.