The future ain’t what it used to be.
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges of any life – or any business – is adequately preparing for the future. Knowing what lies ahead, even with the most thorough research and best available information, is hardly a science. Tomorrow remains a mystery. We can make plans, make predictions, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Sometimes we get lucky. How do we ensure that those “lucky” days happen more often than not?
At the age of 81, historian Arnold Toynbee reflected upon life as he had known it. He said: “As one grows older, the temptation to dwell on the past and to avert one's eyes from the future grows. If one were to fall into this backward-looking stance, one would be as good as dead before physical death had overtaken us.
“Our minds, so long as they keep their cutting edge, are not bound by our physical limits; they can range over time and space into infinity. To be human is to be capable of transcending oneself.”
Humans have demonstrated hope for the future since Adam. Planting a tree, building sturdy shelters, populating the planet – all showed optimism for the future. European explorers braved uncharted seas and flat earth skeptics to reach the New World. American pioneers pushed westward in search of a better future for themselves.
Did they have a business plan? Were their actions based on the latest research? Were they brave risk-takers? No, no, and yes. Because the future involves taking risks.
But there are some steps you can take to minimize risks before you jump in with both feet. Whether you hope to start your own business, plan to rise to the top of the organization you currently work for, or just want to support your employer’s success the best you can, understanding how a business grows and survives is central to a successful career. These factors will influence your fortunes and your organization’s growth over the long haul:
A long time ago, I discovered the following mantra which helps me focus on my future. It is a simple formula that links the present to the unknown. The words vary, but the sentiments have been attributed to a number of great planners such as Mahatma Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher, among others.
Watch your thoughts for they become your actions.
Watch your actions for they become your habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
Mackay’s Moral: We may not be able to predict the future, but we can prepare for it.