Predicting the Future

Predicting the Future

I am going to make a prediction. I predict that those of you who take their leadership journey seriously in 2019 will read other blogs in this series, will read a book on leadership (hopefully one that deals directly with your personal area for self-improvement), and you will go back and view one of the published webinars that you missed or simply one which might provide a needed refresher. I further predict that if you do NOT do these things on a regular basis, starting immediately, your leadership journey will be very frustrating and meet with little success.

Am I some kind of seer? No, not at all. I have worked with so many people seeking to improve their leadership that I can say with compete confidence that if you start to do these things your leadership journey will be a lot more fun because it will be more successful. And these are very simple things that do not take up a great deal of time. It is part of the process of feeding your mind valuable thoughts and letting your subconscious gestate on the things your conscious mind is feeding it. It is a sure formula for success. Don’t take my word for it; check out Napoleon Hill, John Maxwell, or any of so many other quality leadership thinkers. It is a proven formula for success.

Developing Foresight

As another step in that direction, we continue today with our series on leadership lexicon – providing the meaning of the words we use to describe leadership. See some earlier posts on Relationships, Responsibility, Small Talk, Networking, Influence, and Courage.  Today I want to talk about developing your Foresight. In Sustained Leadership WBS I define it in this way:

WBS Dictionary: Foresight is the ability to assess a number of variables and predict with some level of confidence what those variables will do to affect future situations. This is different from Situational Awareness (2.1.6) in that foresight is predictive in approach and situational awareness is appreciating the circumstances as they actually exist. No one’s crystal ball is perfect. A sustained leader should, however, understand the environment within which they are performing to a degree that they should rarely, if ever, truly be caught by surprise. They should be in a state of constant analysis on those data elements that are important to their vision (5.1.2) and mission. Leaders should rely on their trusted advisors and network ( to stay informed of information that matters. They should be able to sift through the “noise” ( and concentrate on significant drivers to their environment, considering all risks (2.1.4), to assess the most likely future scenarios for their operations.

Foresight is primarily a function of being prepared by gathering as many facts as possible and then interpreting them in the context of everything else that affects the system. Systems thinking was addressed in a prior post. For present purposes, system thinking encourages you to consider the inter-relationship of everything in your environment.

Too often we apply pressure in one place, in the nature of an introduced change, expecting a particular outcome, only to see that something unexpected happened somewhere else in the system – an unintended consequence. Foresight seeks to avoid these undesired outcomes.

Learning from Experience

Foresight is honed through experience. You look into the foreseeable future and assess the many variables, consider the number and nature of mid-course corrections that you want to introduce, and assess the most probable results. The only way to benefit from this, and actually learn something useful, is to affirmatively make the foresight assessment. Write it down. Note the interplay of the variables. And never, ever, underestimate the variable of human nature.

People do not always act in predictable ways; sometimes the best prediction is to assume the most improbable reaction. Even so – journal your predictions. Once the events have played out, do an active assessment of the outcomes and compare it to your predictions. Only in this way can you learn from this experience and improve your foresight.

Continuous Learning

In addition to improving your observational abilities, you must also be continually learning. Read the latest leadership literature, participate in social media discussions, and where business is involved, stay attuned to the latest business news and trends. You must consider all aspects of your operational environment, whether that is from a personal or a business perspective. It is a significant undertaking and completely necessary to benefit from your foresight development efforts.

Resolutions versus Plans

Consider your New Year planning or reassessment at any point of the year. Statistics show that most people, by a significant margin, have abandoned and forgotten whatever resolutions they made in the end of December within four to six weeks.

What if, instead, we considered your resolutions as plans deeply embedded in foresight as (hopefully) specific and articulated goals? How would you make such a plan? Using the initial aspects of Strategic Thinking, you assess where you are, where you want to be, and what must be done to get you to bridge those two conditions. This requires a large measure of thinking, assessment, and consideration of many variables. And it requires very concrete and specific thinking.

Simply saying that you want to lose 10 (or 50) pounds is very aspirational, but is also very meaningless. We will talk more about goal setting in the coming year. For now simply think in terms of concrete things you can do. Perhaps cut out soda, or sugar, or carbohydrates. Perhaps add things like exercise, sleep, and hydration. Maybe you will want to get specific help and begin a commercial meal plan, a weight tracking accountability group, or even help from a doctor.

The point is that there are many variables and many paths to “losing 10 pounds.” Simply stating the goal without putting in place specific actions and mechanisms to attain that goal will assure you of NOT meeting the goal.

Action Plans

From these articulated goals it is imperative that you create specific action plans that will probably include things that you will affirmatively do and making note of those thing you will consciously avoid. Perhaps you will rid your house of the foods to avoid, consciously assure that you never grocery shop when hungry, or set a goal to weigh yourself on the first Monday of each month to assess your progress.

Trying to do all of the possible actions at once will lead to frustration and abandonment of the goal. It becomes nothing more than spinning your wheels as you lie to yourself about the real goal.  Acting in any sense of vagueness about what you “ought” to be doing will likewise not yield results.

As simple as it sounds, the statistics of human nature are clear. You must set specific goals and action plans to reach the goal that is before you. In this environment, predicting that you will in fact lose 10 or 50 pounds is not some nebulous dream. It is a specific goal. Your foresight allows this level of planning and execution and assures the achievement of your goal. Without it, you will be another statistic among those who abandon their resolutions.

Create Your Success

People will congratulate you and praise you. And that is deserved, but not for the specific goal – what they do not realize is that you have exercised your foresight to lay out an achievable plan that you attend to every day. That is the key to your success. Implementing that plan leads to very predictable outcomes and minimizes unintended consequences.

Sounds like a pretty good way to plan your year and be able to tell people that you don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. You simply apply foresight to plan for your own success and work every day toward achieving it.

My Prediction – Progress in your Leadership Journey

If you abandon your resolutions and instead apply foresight to your goal-setting, my prediction for you in 2019 is that you will achieve whatever you set your mind on achieving as you make significant progress in your leadership journey.

This material is derived from the book Sustained Leadership WBS and is found in section Foresight. Buy the book here. eBook:; Print:

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With an extensive career in government contracting, Tom has found many examples, both good and bad, of leadership. These posts are based on his latest book, Sustained Leadership WBS, published by Morgan James. Tom is available to speak to your team on the importance of developing sustained leaders.


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