The choices we make today shape not only the current results, but also the future. However, we live in a world that overemphasizes the near future, blinding people and institutions about the long-term implications of their current decisions and actions. The multiplicity and complexity of the issues we face, forces us to focus on solutions for today’s problems. Yet, if our sole focus is to fight the fires, we will not be able to prevent them.
Shaping the future requires an approach that is based on common values and principles, regardless of whether it involves the future of an individual, a company, a NGO, a government, or even humanity. Also, we need to realize that the people are the basis of all institutions and we all have multiple roles. Therefore, adhering to these common values and principles enables us to behave consistently in different roles.
This understanding requires us to create a positive return for each resource we utilize, regardless of the ownership of that resource; to be fair in sharing the returns; and to continuously improve the management quality in all institutions we are involved with.
The basis of this understanding can be found at the intersection of western analytic thinking and eastern spiritual and holistic outlook. It involves the tradition of tolerance prominent in Anatolia, the crossroads of civilizations; creation of value and sharing it with an attitude of “Regard the other, as you regard yourself;” and assuming responsibility for the future. In short, having a meaning in life is making meaningful contributions to others.
The basic principles of shaping the future could be summarized as follows: First, those who wish to shape the future has to have a dream about the future and develop thoughts and content for the desired future. Real results are achieved not by solving problems, but by catching the opportunities. “Luck favors the prepared mind.”This is the essence of shaping the future. Shaping the future is preparing the mind, the behavior, and the attitude for the future.
Second, the desired future has to create a value. Value creating activities, that utilize the resources efffectvely, tend to have a higher success rate. Innovation is the engine of development and value creation. Therefore, shaping the future requires innovative thinking and vision.
Third, those who wish to shape the future has to have a realistic assessment of the resource needs and how to gain access to them. In particular, one has to realize that resources are not solely, or even mainly, within the organization but rather outside the organization. Therefore, an open mind for cooperation, a commitment to meritocracy, development of the best, and fairness in sharing are the keys to mobilization of adequate resources. Those who focus only within the organization, as it is the familiar territory, are likely to have a limited vision and will be unable to achieve a broad acceptance of the vision and mobilization of resources.
Fourth, shaping the future requires a broad understanding of the environment, which in turn can only be achieved by those who have a passion for learning and continuous improvement. Those who are keen observers of the world, of the technological developments, of the resources, and their team are more likely to identify the imporant steps needed to shape the future.
Fifth, shaping the future requires creating trust and effective communication of the vision in order to win the hearts and minds of the decision makers regarding the required resources and those who are subjects of the change initiative.
Sixth, we have to realize that shaping the future starts with changing our own current behaviour. Achieving a consistency in thought, values, and behaviour is the best way to gain trust. Assuming responsibility for the future and utilizing all the resources solely for the stated vision is the surest way of mobilizing others’ resources for the vision.
Last but not the least, shaping the future requires a long term focus and discipline. It requires practising for a marathon, not for a 100m sprint. Positive attitude and living a balanced life increases longevity and strength to realize the vision.
Meaningful life is taking responsibility. Those who try to continuously improve themselves and their environment are the candidates for shaping the future. Sustainable development and global peace requires an understanding of the implications of our current decisions not only for ourselves, but also for others; not only for today, but also for the future. Hoping to contribute to an understanding of ‘regard the others, as they regard themselves’ and a focus on creating value for the future of humanity…
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