Have you ever wondered how people come up with the ideas that change the world? I have, and I’ve discovered that they appear only when curiosity is given a chance.
Curiosity is a state of being that, when partnered with wisdom, gives us the energy and flexibility to explore every part of existence with confident optimism - because it allows us to connect the invisible dots between the present and possibility.
Living with curiosity leads us to upgrade our perspective - a critical step in developing the flexibility and adaptability we need to prepare for a future unlike anything we’ve seen before.
THE FOUR SIGHTS
Adjusting our perspective starts with understanding the way we see the world, and the four types of sight we have at our disposal.
* HINDsight: this is an outlook that happens when we look to the past to try to find answers for tomorrow. There are lessons we can learn from history, but yesterday’s answers won’t be relevant when everything is different.
* PLAINsight: it’s what happens when we open our eyes. Even though it’s a favourite among the “seeing is believing” crowd, PLAINsight has two major shortcomings. The first is that who we are, from our upbringing to our biases, influences the way we interpret what we see, so we can never be absolutely objective. The second is that new evidence in the field of quantum science proves we can create our reality; that believing is seeing.
* INsight. I like to define this as the facts and information people gather but rarely use. It’s what US-born futurist Herman Kahn calls “the expert problem” - a scenario where educated people struggle with challenges outside what they’ve studied, because they’ve learnt frameworks rather than flexibility.
* FOREsight is a perspective that starts with a new understanding of wisdom that calls on us to unlearn what we know, and forget how we’ve always done things. Once we’ve let go of that conditioning, we can start fresh and let curiosity lead. It’s like starting with a clean slate where everything is exciting and interesting. In that state, we make choices and decisions about the future with our hearts, rather than our egos and that’s a way of life that starts to reveal the elegant, inspired ideas that change the world.
My latest book, FOREsight, explores what it takes to adjust your perspective so that you can connect the invisible dots to recognise important patterns that reveal opportunities to create a better reality.
I’m not going to give it all away, but here’s a glimpse of FOREsight in action regarding autonomous vehicles, how we get from A to B - and where A and B are.
For thousands of years, our ancestors lived in caves, which eventually became small houses and buildings. Our gradual development continued until the Egyptians and Mesopotamians cracked the code to architecture and engineering, and figured out that we could stack buildings on top of each other and connect them with stairs.
The ability to build upwards saved heaps of space, but there was a limit to how high we could go: people’s legs can only handle so much.
Those limitations forced factory owners to look further and further away from city centres for the space they needed, so cities grew; attracting thousands of people who wanted to find fortune, and avoid the costly commute.
That influx saw property prices in cities rocket, especially on the ground floor, which saved you those flights at the end of a long day at work. The poor piled into the attic.
Everything changed again in 1852, when Elisha Otis turned a handful of existing patents into the brake at the heart of the world’s first autonomous vehicle: the elevator, an invention that had the same level of impact as stairs had thousands of years before.
The elevator unlocked the space above cities, so more people could cram sardine-style into tiny apartments close to work. Again, prices went up, but now, the ground floor wasn’t hot property: the wealthy paid top dollar for penthouses away from the reality below.
Those who couldn’t afford to make the move to the big city were stuck in the suburbs - ferried to and from work by an overloaded transport network.
Otis connected the dots between growing cities and the potential to build upwards, and his invention had an undeniable impact on another of his time: the automobile.
Cars connected suburbs and cities, carrying commuters to their work, but soon they became status symbols, and transcended that purpose.
Although it boomed over the past century, the car industry hasn’t really changed. Much like the use of stairs, we’ve simply done what we always have. If anything has changed, it’s the way we own cars.
We can expect a huge shift, though, with the arrival of the next generation of autonomous vehicles: not only are they going to reduce our environmental impact, they are also going to redefine the commute - and alter the property market, too.
When you don’t have to drive yourself, the commute becomes an opportunity to attend virtual meetings, work, sleep or network while being safely carried to your destination (when you’re not working from home, that is.)
In that environment, there’s no need to squeeze into a city. In fact, the space and peace of larger homes in the suburbs becomes the preferred choice - so you can expect to see people flocking there to give themselves time, our most precious commodity.
Driverless cars will have obvious benefits - enhanced safety, a less stressful commute, reduced congestion and a lower carbon footprint among them; but with FOREsight we can see that, just as the elevator created a demand for penthouse property, so autonomous vehicles will have a direct impact on the price of property outside of city centres.
John Sanei is a trend and innovation strategist, speaker, lecturer and author. He is on the faculty at Singularity University and Duke Corporate Education. His new book, FOREsight, is available from online retailers such as Loot.co.za.