From Episodes 82 and 83 of The Complete Leader Podcast

Futuristic thinking is one of those skills that does not come easy for a lot of leaders. So, if you feel this way, you are not alone!

It’s an important skill to continuously develop as our world is constantly changing. If you aren’t thinking about the future, you might find you’ve been left behind.

And even though this is a challenging skill for many, it’s not that you can’t develop it. For many leaders, there are specific obstacles prohibiting futuristic thinking practice. For one, leaders are busy. Busy leaders often get trapped in the day-to-day tasks and putting out fires. You have to step away from today’s urgencies and think about those things that are important but maybe not urgent.

Other leaders are sidetracked by productivity. Futuristic thinking is often not rewarded by investors because they are looking for results now. There’s tremendous pressure to focus on what you’re getting done today, this month, and this quarter that out-leverages the importance of developing futuristic thinking as a long-term skill. But, if you can set aside some time for skill development, you will truly see results in the long run.

How can I grow my futuristic thinking skills?

When working with leaders or groups on futuristic thinking, I always suggest putting these four things into practice to help exercise that futuristic thinking muscle.

Identify futuristic thinkers in business and in your industry. Seek out people who are regularly thinking, writing, or speaking about the future and keep them on your radar. Follow them on social media, read their books, or listen to their podcasts. As you familiarize yourself with other futuristic thinkers, you’ll find you begin to adopt their ideas and think more about the possibilities ahead.

Spend time with futuristic thinkers in your circle. Consider the people in your circle—acquaintances, friends, family, colleagues—who always seem to be thinking of the future. Or perhaps they’re the early adopters, the ones who always have the latest tech. Be intentional in finding time to spend with them and ask them what they are reading, thinking about, and listening to. Spending time with other futuristic thinkers can be contagious.

Journal about your conversations. Any time you spend with other futuristic thinkers, or even simply talking about the future, journal about those conversations. This will anchor the ideas even further in your mind and allow you to return and reflect. Over time, journaling can help you expand your futuristic thinking abilities.

Think of the future in increments. Thinking about the future is not about predicting the future, it’s about the mindset, tools, and skills you develop in how to think about the future. Part of that is realizing something is always going to happen that you didn’t plan for—and being prepared for those instances. Thinking in increments can help.

Ask yourself, “What am I going to do next week? What about next month? Next quarter?” Set goals based on those answers with different key results you want to achieve or big ideas you want to advance. This will help you measure and reflect as you hit your milestones, and you’ll become more comfortable thinking about a year, two years, three years, or even five years out. Think in increments, and see how clear of a picture you can paint for your potential future.

While developing your futuristic thinking abilities may not feel urgent today, it’s a great idea to try out any combination of these ideas to build your skills. And once you find a method that works for you and that you enjoy, you can focus on that method and become the futuristic thinker I know you can be.

Photo by Christina Morillo via Pexels.