How Successful People Manage the Future

Manage the Future

“I have seen the future and it is very much like the present, only longer.”  This quote is from Kehlog Albran’s “The Profit,” a parody of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet.”  This quote has become a useful nugget of wisdom for forecasters.  It also applies aptly as to how successful people manage the future.

And how do successful people manage the future?  They don’t.  Even when they are planning, they are not managing the future.  They are managing their plans for the future.

The future doesn’t exists.  There is a sign that hangs above some bars: “Free beer tomorrow.”  Of course, the same sign will be hanging above the bar tomorrow and carry the same message.  People who are coming back for free beer tomorrow will just have to keep coming back forever.

But what about times when life hands us bad hands?  Don’t bad hands affect the future?  No one really knows how today’s hands will affect the hands that we get tomorrow.  Life deals everyone bad hands.  Just ask poker players.  They all get bad hands.  Great poker players know that over the long-term, bad hands and good hands even out.  Whether or not they make money depends on how they play the hand they hold in the present moment.  They focus on each hand with three questions.  Do I call raise with the present hand?  Do I call with the present hand?  Do I fold the present hand?

To quote poker great Phil Hellmuth, “If there weren’t luck involved, I would win every time.”

When I became a recruiter, I went through a training period.  The trainer emphasized the importance of treating all calls, whether good new or bad news, as having the same value.  Some calls have positive results.  Other calls have negative results.  But both calls have equal value over the course of a career in recruiting.  The key to managing the future of my success was (a) to keep making calls and (b) to become better at learning with each call.

Image: Sean Creamer/Flickr

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