One of the best questions we can ask ourselves is: Where do we spend our time?
Do you tend to spend your time analyzing what happened, planning and projecting what can happen, or taking action to make things happen right now? How do you shift between each mode with all of its strengths and blindspots? Is there a dominant space your mind inhabits?
Much of the business world tends to focus on the past, on case studies, on best practices, on sales results from previous quarters. The fantasy it sells is that the future can be predicted, uncertainty contained. And there is an entire industry that thrives on this fantasy–rhapsodizing about the metaverse or drone deliveries and how they will impact the future.
Yet little time is spent on what matters now.
Can we honestly look at the world and conclude that we’ve made the most of the technology that exists today? That we’re doing everything we can to apply new tech to help people get access to life-saving resources, or to better healthcare, diagnostics, or quality of life? To teach kids vital skills? To navigate rules–employment, tax, renting a home, and so much more–that ignore the complexities of modern living? To improve urban planning or transportation–when many airports are still struck by the decade-old dilemma of how to handle car sharing apps? Have retailers mastered buy-online-pickup-in-store? Are mobile ads delightful experiences that seduce us into seamlessly buying? How many grocery stores or hotels or airlines are proof that companies are unleashing the opportunities of now?
We live in an era where the most advanced technologies we’ve ever known and the most profound tools we’ve ever had can be deployed across the world, across demographics and across industries. Our role is not to ignore trends, but to focus on what we can do now, with what we have.
Now is the time for action. Let’s focus on fast, abundant connectivity, on the vast implications of automation, on the brilliant devices in everyone’s hands, on new consumer behaviors created by them, and on delighting people. What new products can we make? In what ways can we simplify or solve real problems? The skill of today is knowing what matters.
The past teaches us about how the world works and gives us crucial context that aids our decision-making. It’s there to be learned from, not worshipped. The future beams with possibilities that thrill and inspire. But now is when we can make a difference.