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We are all encouraged to think and plan ahead. This article by Antonia Case in NewPhilosopher examines the benefits or mistakes in doing so. Antonia, ” Write down your five year goals. Self help gurus who hold seminars in large auditoriums use this tactic to get the audience fired up. Instantly the audience goes into future thinking mode, which is unabashedly optimistic.” This is always the direction that these conferences take. Everyone gets fired up and and enthusiastic dreaming about how their lives will change for the better because it’s easy to believe this to be the case forgetting it’s all an illusion complete with unfulfilled expectations.
Respected business leaders have put forward their predictions about many things, including Ben Bernanke the Federal Reserve chairman stating that there would be no recession two months before America entered the worst recession since the Great Depression and RMS Titanic, unsinkable according to the builder. Other situations come to mind such as 20th Century Fox executive Darryl Zanuck predicting there was no future for TV sets predicting the demand would collapse shortly after they were introduced into homes in America as the new form of home entertainment. We all know that this prediction ran out of legs early in the piece.
When you think of it most predictions do not occur. Antonia, ” So why are we so bad at predicting the future? Spanish philosopher George Santayana thinks we’re better served ruminating on the past, especially our past mistakes, so we don’t repeat them, rather than glazing blissfully into the unknown. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Those self help gurus really have to work hard in convincing us that we can determine our amazing future just by following a set of tasks which include positive thinking. It seems remembering the past, especially those parts which rewarded us, then repeating them as we move into the future is a far more reliable way to ensure our future thinking will deliver the success we all wish for.
But then there’s innovation…and so we start over. Ah, future gazing – it’s undeniably hopeful and challenges our thinking. Can it be realised? Perhaps that is the answer we’re searching for.