Learning from the Future

Have you ever wondered how we all got here? How did all this advancement in the numerous aspects of human life happen? How did schools, businesses, carts, cars, planes, smart phones and iPads come by?

Well, regardless of the dates, places, and tools used, we are all here today because few of our ancestors had a Godly differentiating built-in feature called “the urge to learn”. I intentionally used the term “few” because – yes – only few of our ancestors had the curiosity and courage to question the status quo, and even fewer sought to understand the reason of things. In other words, what got us all here was our ability as human beings to assimilate information (data, experience) and deduce lessons. These lessons were, and many of them, continue to be used for two main reasons: mitigate threat to survival, and make a better life.

Looking at the status of mankind today, not only in the Middle East, but all over the Globe, one can notice that not much learning is taking place. I am judging by reflecting on the definition of Insanity by Albert Einstein who states that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”!

It might sound as if I am reflecting on the political mood of the World, but in fact I am talking about Human Capital Management in our Businesses. This issue is very timely especially with the big question of Capacity Building that most governments are worrying about among major global security worries. Enabling Talent should only be based on what our aspirations for the Future are; what kind of Businesses, Economies, and Life-changing inventions are we planning for our World. Our ‘Present’ needs to be driven by our ‘Future’ and it is our Vision of the Future that should teach us what kind of ‘Present’ we have to build.

This said learning from our Past seems to be all absurd today. When we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, learning from the Past becomes insignificant with a twist of insanity! We all know what is right, what is correct and appropriate; we all know what our employees want, and our employees know what their businesses want. We all know the rules of professionalism, and the positive correlation between quality and performance; we all know that Leadership is a main driver of team motivation, among others, but still we see non-leader personalities dominating Middle Management and C-suites.

In a nut shell, we all know that workplace environment, motivation, respect, fair compensation, progress and recognition are conducive of Great Performance; we learned this from the Past. But are we actually respecting these lessons? By the same token, most employees today know that they need to be committed to realizing business objectives and service excellence, respecting codes of conduct and professionalism, as this was probably repeated hundreds of time by the CEO, Managers, and Trainers; but are employees actually respecting these lessons?

If we are not learning from the Past, then why do we keep saying that we should? I believe it is time for all of us to start learning from the Future. We know, or at least foresee, how the Future should look like. We all aspire for a prosperous and colorful Future where employees are motivated, engaged and performing, and where businesses are efficient, effective and profitable. So if this is what we want, then this is exactly what we need to learn about, rather learn how to do; and if the Past did not teach us, then let us drive our reality by counting on the Future we want to create.

Learning from the Future requires creating the link between what Future we want for our Businesses, and what actions should we adopt to take us there; it implies a start-from-scratch and a leap of faith.

A start-from-scratch to plan and take action that is not based on the Past, rather a completely newly conceived practice never thought of before; an ‘outside the box’ paradigm totally disconnected from our present and not linked to the past. Now this might sound significantly challenging. We are taught to be afraid of the Future and that nobody knows what the Future carries for us. That is why we fall back to our Past as a safe launch pad, and forget totally that we can create our Future – to a large extent – by taking ownership of it. Observing, reflecting, assessing, analyzing options, exchanging views, planning, organizing, preparing, and envisioning are all God-given gifts for us to make the Future, so let’s use them.

As for the leap of faith, well this takes us back to our ancestors. Their leap of faith was demonstrated by a respectful challenge of the status quo. Their curiosity and courage to understand the reason of things, and think of the unimaginable, drove not only their Future, but the Future of the whole Mankind!

If the Past did not – and is incapable of teaching us – then, once again, let us learn from the Future.