Your Survival Secret For The Future: Time Travel (Yes, Really!)

Last week, I was back in one of my favourite countries – Singapore – attending a conference. This was part of my ongoing professional development, so I had the rare opportunity to not be one of the speakers, but had time to just be an audience member, absorbing the ideas.

One of my highlights was a presentation by Hong-Kong based China expert, Ashley Dudarenok, who shared story after story of how China is leading the way in future technology, trends, and lifestyle.

As she said:

“If you want to see the future, you don’t need a time machine. You just need airfare to Shanghai and a week to explore.”

It’s easy to dismiss this as a throwaway remark. But it’s literally true – and a useful metaphor for all of us to think about the future.

We Australians have a reputation for being global travellers. And, many (many!) years ago, I did what many other young Australians did, and spent a couple of years living and working in Europe. Of course, it was an amazing experience being immersed in these cultures, and I couldn’t have had those experiences in any other way.

But don’t limit yourself to physical travel. How often do you travel into the future to see what’s coming?

What’s your “ticket to Shanghai”?

A key requirement for being fit for the future is to be a lifelong learner. You can outsource and delegate other parts of your job, but the one thing you must do yourself is to keep learning.

But your learning choices are important! Your set of learning sources – or “Personal Learning Network” – should include a mix of three specific kinds of learning: deeper, wider, and further.

Many people learn by going deeper into their current areas of expertise, so you build on what you already know.

Some people take the next step and learn by going wider, so you broaden your knowledge base and learn from other domains.

But only a few take the trouble to learn by going further into the future. You could follow futurists (like me!), read white papers and special reports about the future, watch sci-fi on TV, and yes – even get a ticket to Shanghai. This helps you keep an open mind and explore ideas that are just possibilities, potential, and even wild speculation.

We all have a one-way ticket to the future. For many people, it’s an uncertain and unclear future. Leaders see further into the future, and bring back clarity and confidence to everybody else.

Thinking Ahead

  1. How much time are you allowing (honestly!) for ongoing learning?
  2. What kind of content (deeper, wider, further) is lacking in your current Personal Learning Network?
  3. How are you helping your team members develop their own Personal Learning Networks?

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