Daily Inspiration – Leadership : “You’ll never get to your future if you keep trying to get back to your past!”


“You’ll never get to your future if you keep trying to get back to your past!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

I’ve had a vague sense of unease for a time that too many industries and the leaders of companies within them are all too eager to try to slide back into yesterday and give up on the opportunities of tomorrow. It’s coming from a mixture of a volatile political environment, relentless activist pushback, accelerating social media misinformation, and in some cases, opportune laziness.

In my long term view, while this might fit the exigencies of the moment, I really don’t think it will provide great long term results.

The best example I can give is what is happening with the automotive industry as many mainstream legacy manufacturers scale back their plans with electric vehicles as headlines screaming about a plunge in EVs. (That’s not happening, as sales continue to increase month over month, year over year.) I wrote about this sometime back when I bemoaned the fact that such a trend is becoming a part of the culture wars in our society. The result? China, which is showing remarkable success with EV innovation, ends up owning the automotive industry of the 21st century.

The same thing seems to be happening with the opportunities of the green economy; suddenly, many companies that once boasted bold and lofty goals around a drive to a net-zero carbon impact are now quietly scaling back. For multiple reasons, they’ve decided to turn their back on the opportunities of tomorrow – laudable climate goals seem to have become something to be attacked for, not something to be proud of. The result? The future will still see millions of green-energy jobs and careers, but precious little of that will happen in the affected economies.

Similarly, in healthcare, society saw massive scientific strides with genomic medicine, the science of mRNA vaccines, and much more. Today, there seems to be a nonstop battle between the realistic opportunities of advancing medical science and strident political discourse. The loser in the long run is human longevity.

Food science? We are making remarkable strides with protein-based food alternatives, the opportunities for a healthy (and often plant-based) lifestyle, and meat alternatives. And yet, this aspect of the food industry seems to have entered into a winter of societal discontent.

Social issues? Let’s just say we are witnessing a real reversal of women’s rights as well as well as other basic human rights. Society seems to have lost its moral compass, as anger, divisiveness, and retribution increasingly drive the discourse. A legal system that once based its decisions on the law now seems to make things up on the fly to satisfy its agenda. Institutions are crumbling before our very eyes, erasing the progress of decades with the stroke of an antiquated quill pen. No doubt, it is only going to get worse – but many people seem to have lost sight of anything but the impact of inflation on their pocketbooks.

Is there hope in such an environment? Perhaps. At the same time that we witness this backsliding, we can find those who are sticking to their goals, doubling down on their plans, and chasing the trends of tomorrow rather than the ideas of yesterday.  In my mind, there is no doubt that we are witnessing massive and seismic shifts in entire industries, and those who stick with the reality of the trends will be those who continue to succeed.

All of this should cause you to ask yourself some serious questions. Are you still prepared to believe in tomorrow? Are you willing to let the drumbeat of anti-progress deter you from your bold goals? Are you willing to fortify your own personal, ethical, and moral guardrails in an era in which those ideas will be very much under relentless attack?

From a leadership perspective, are you going to make sure that you continue to chase the trends, and pursue innovative ideas, a bold agenda, lofty goals, and disruptive opportunities despite the strident viewpoints of those who might push you back? Do you still believe that organizational sclerosis is an illness that needs to be pushed back against, that hubris and complacency about tomorrow are the most dangerous of attitudes, that relentless innovation is crucial to success, and that a belief that you are infallible is a warning sign of impending failure?

We live in interesting times – and at every moment, you need to fortify yourself with the courage of tomorrow.




THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.