Picture the future – or someone will paint it for you

“WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?” That was the all too familiar question I was asked again and again as I was growing up.

Unknowingly, I also now ask that question out of instinct.

Perhaps what I have not heard often enough is someone asking: “What do I want my country or organisation to be when it grows up?”

Greatness is a quest for the future.

If you do not see the future, you abuse the present and terrorise those who see it. Without a vision, a definite dream and image of the future, you are positioned to be an accident.

It is your image of the future that empowers and energises you.

There is no obstacle, challenge or adversity that is strong enough to overwhelm a burning dream and a resolute dreamer.

Vision

Vision is more than just a clever and impressive statement that is hung in your office and paraded to all visitors.

As long as that vision is a clever statement that you cannot “see in your mind” it does not have motivational power.

Vision is the picture that you see and are drawn towards. Whatever that picture is, it is a strong influence that directs your path and energy.

You are wasting time, energy and resources when you lead without having a clear image of the future.

If you are going nowhere, please do not recruit passengers to go with you.

To change your life, change the pictures that you hold in your mind.

It is impossible to hold a positive, inspiring picture in your mind and then fail to be motivated.

Most motivational problems can be directly traced to your mental state.

What you see is what shows in your conversation and manifests in your action.

Doom pictures results in doom dialogue.

Until the picture that you hold and share changes, very little else may change.

The image of the future that you carry within you influences the future that you create.

Today

Your greatest leverage is in the present because that is what you really have.

The past, with all its glory, is just a trophy.

Your wisdom is found in the lessons you take from the past, not in the way you park there. The future is a dream.

Never write off a dream. You can only take action now.

That is where your greatest leverage is.

What you do today determines what you become tomorrow.

Do not allow your successful past block your visions of the future and stifle your actions of today.

Yesterday

Yesterday is gone, with its glories and exploits.

The exploits of the past belong to museums and archives.

May these be built large and beautiful.

The future does not live in a museum, the future is created by what you do today.

Today is critical. You do not have the luxury of approaching this day with half-hearted commitment and a lottery mindset.

Today is no gambling table, but the shaping place of destiny.

Yesterday is past, the future is what you make it.

Choose to create the future, not just to let other people create it for you.

Your choices of today determine your future.

Today is what you have, it is the start of a new day.

Do not criticise those who have a dream for the future when you have none.

Unless you have a dream and you are working on it diligently, it is useless being a critic.

A critic with no alternative is a mere pest.

Create the new future by taking responsibility today.

If you have a choice between being a door and a critic, choose the former.

Change your dialogue from narratives of disaster and doom to talking about how to create a great future.

The future is already present, it is just waiting for someone to conceive it and work for it.

Be obsessed with pictures of your preferred future not abused past.

Models

R Buckminster Fuller put it in a most exciting way: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.

“To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Too much energy is wasted and spent on fighting the existing reality.

Current reality is the grandchild of the past.

Stop fighting reality and start creating new images and models.

The future does not belong to those who are wedded to past glory, legacy problems and traditional complaints.

There is no glory in dressing up old complaints in new clothes. Unless you are willing to take responsibility, you will forever be blaming others for your circumstances.

The future belongs to those who have a dream and a plan today.

Future

When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?

You will always be threatened by the future when you do not have plans to live there.

When you treat the future as a threat, you try to re-script the past, preserve the present and insulate the future.

The future is not dead, gone or irrelevant; we will always meet there.

The future is there and it is looking back at us in awe, wondering how much we have the propensity to choose fiction over fact, squandering time in unworthy pursuits.

The future cannot understand how we can think so crazily as to push it away and pretend it is not coming.

The future belongs to the people who prepare for it today.

Preparing for the future is not protesting about it.

Mistrusting the future makes you a victim of the past and an unsettled historian.

Dialogue differently with yourself and others.

The future is created by the conversations that you hold around the images of the future. Hold new conversations of the future and not the complaints about the present.

Create new models that make the present look so pale and drab.

The past is always there living in you.

It shaped, moulded and gave birth to the present.

However, you must never let the past dominate your mental space and live large in you.

Always leave space for the dreams and the possibilities of the future.

Let the images of the future that you embrace be full of light, life and vision.

Dark images of the future simply rob you of energy and light. Dream new dreams and make new preferences and references.

Bloom

Your life is visually directed and, if you like, “manipulated.”

A picture tells the story of a thousand words, and affects ten thousand lives; hence the power of advertising.

However, it is not just in advertising that images matter.

There are images all over, shaping and influencing.

An image becomes powerful when it is planted firmly in your mind and heart.

To change your life, change the image of the future that you are holding.

Images of despair, defeat and despondency only help to create that reality.

What things are like outside you does not need to be the picture that you carry yourself.

The Dutch Futurist, Fred Polak, in 1961 said: “The rise and fall of images of the future precedes or accompanies the rise and fall of cultures.

“As long as the society’s image is positive and nourishing, the flower of culture is in full bloom. Once the image begins to decay and lose its vitality, however, the culture does not long survive.”

Every one of us is under the influence of two forces: The push of the achievements of the past and the pull of the future.

With a strong foundation and pride in the achievements of the past and no strong forward visionary pull, there is regression.

The future is birthed in the gap between the force of the past and the pull of the future.

Appreciate the past and the sacrifices made then, but do not park there.

When you park in the past, you stagnate and development shrivels up.

Movement is only enabled by positive visions.

Have a dream, a big, bold dream that magnetises you to the future.

The essence of transformational leadership is holding up a great and inspiring vision of the future that is so magnetic that everyone wants to be in it.

Imagination

Imagination is more important than mere facts.

Those who create are more important than those who complain.

Those who do are more important than those who just watch what is happening.

Your lived reality was born out of the images and dreams of the past.

If you cannot dream and imagine a new future, you just poison the present.

The future is created by the dreams that we hold in the present.

Change the images that you hold in your mind from negative to positive.

Deliberately dump the negative and pick a new dream.

You have power to chose the images that dominate your thoughts.

Use your personal power wisely and well.

Do not consign yourself to a life of listless and unimaginative repetition of the all too familiar.

Be daring, bold and visionary.

It is when it is darkest that projected images are sharpest. This is the time to dream big and see possibilities.

You do not need to be a visionary to see light at mid-day.

It is when things are toughest that your resolve to create an exciting future should be keenest.

Park not in the past – it is a vacant lot.

Drive towards the preferred future that you define.

Vision without action is merely a dream.

Dreams not acted upon become nightmares.

Action without vision just passes time and aimless activity.

Action without vision makes you a senseless hyperactive hero.

Action with vision has the potential to create greatness. Heroism without purpose is wasted passion.

Lead

Transformational leadership is visionary and has clarity of the desired future.

Without a vision, leadership loses meaning and only works to preserve the past.

The past cannot be preserved by fearing the future.

It is the great visions of the future that make the past a trampoline, not a quick sand.

The role of any leadership is to find, define and secure the future.

Leadership is not just about curating and preserving the past. It is about creating an exciting future.

Leaders are at their best when, as artists, they paint bold and exciting pictures of the future. They are most respected when they act with integrity towards those pictures.

  • Milton Kamwendo is an international transformational and inspirational speaker, author and coach. He is a strategy, innovation, team-building and leadership facilitator, whose life purpose is to inspire people to be great. Feedback: [email protected], Twitter @MiltonKamwendo, and WhatsApp +263772422634

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