Walking the Non-Linear Line

May 31, 2022

Being an astrophysicist would feel easier to explain. Alas, I am a Certified Foresight Practitioner. I am a strategist and futurist. I am futures literate. I am a futures thinker. I practice strategic foresight and mindful foresight. What do any of these descriptions mean? To most, confusion. To some, curiosity, or intrigue. To me, everything!

It is who I have been as far back as 8th grade in Mrs. Atkins English class when she surprisingly discovered that the quietest student in the room (yes, me) was so skilled at Lincoln-Douglas debate she could triumph over most high school students with ease. How? At my core, I am a strategic thinker capable of seeing things from different perspectives at the same time. My brain operates in an if then manner constantly analyzing different scenarios.

For all the analyzing and strategy, there is another side to me. I love art, architecture, the beautiful complexity of nature, and embrace wholeheartedly things we as humans cannot fully understand. I believe in and trust my intuition. I am a Reiki Master, a Quantum-Touch practitioner, and a Certified Angel Card Reader. I am spiritual and openminded. I love animals and being surrounded by people more creative than me so that I might continue to grow and see new perspectives.

What does any of this have to do with Joy Forward Strategy? All these parts of me have brought me to where I am today, a whole complex, multi-faceted being never moving in a straight line, but always moving forward.

In one of my first blog posts, I explained where and how the name of my company, Joy Forward Strategy came to be. It was an evolution, and still is, of how Joy Forward Strategy came to be. The services I have come to offer through Joy Forward Strategy on the other hand are much harder to explain.

There are lots of terms that float around the world of foresight. Strategic foresight, foresight practitioner, futures thinking, futures literacy, futurist, to name a few. If a field calls itself so many names, how are we to expect those who need foresight and don’t know it yet, to comprehend what it is much less fully grasp its enormity and potential impact? Perhaps it has so many different names because the field itself has struggled with the dilemma of being understood for decades. Each name and facet of the field is an attempt at trying to open another window or door for more people and organizations to understand it in a way that resonates with them. 

I have struggled with this dilemma since starting my foresight journey in June 2020. How on earth do I explain (and market) a concept that calls itself by so many different names? Why do I keep trying?

Why I keep trying is easy to answer. I am passionate about the value I know this field can bring to people, organizations, and to society. It has transformed me. It has given me hope for all the possibilities that lay ahead for the future. It has provided my with a more optimistic mindset. As my hope and optimism has grown, so has my passion for the power of foresight to create a better world for us all.

How to explain and market my foresight practice and services is where I have struggled most. Strategic foresight is somewhat complex and abstract because it is not the way most have been taught or trained to think or create. It encourages viewing things from many different perspectives, being openminded, and embracing complexity. Marketing in a digital media world is complex, yet it ironically encourages simplicity. Clear, simple, concise, to the point messaging is recommended. What happens when the very thing you are attempting to market is anything but simple? This has been my dilemma!

If I give in to watering down the complexities of strategic foresight for the sake of marketing my services, does that make me a bad foresight practitioner or a good marketer? I’m constantly walking the fine line of trying to market my services in a way that demonstrates value in a digestible way while also embracing the infinite possibilities of strategic foresight within the complex world in which we live. 

I teach my clients that trying to pin things down and simplify them is the equivalent of a cat chase a laser pointer. It is a futile exercise. Instead, teaching them to embrace complexity in a way that opens their eyes to the many opportunities it can bring. Maybe it is time I took more of my own advice!

Strategic foresight is not an easy concept in a world that chases laser pointers, constantly puts boxes around things, designs systems to resist change yet expects resilience, attempts to force broken systems to continue to stand on one leg rather than examine underlying faults, and teaches the imagination out of our children at a young age instead of nurturing creativity and innovation from unexpected places.

Strategic foresight and all its “synonyms” are much needed in our world if we are to make decisions today to create better futures for us all. The many foresight terms have over the last two years become a significant part of who I am. I even created a term of my own, mindful foresight, in my efforts to help clarify foresight. Of all the terms, mindful foresight feels the most like me. It is the amazing combination of all the sides of me.

I will keep walking the fine line between being true to strategic foresight principles and marketing it in a digestible way, but my line won’t be linear or singular. My joy forward is as complex as the root system of a 200 year old oak traversing the depths of the earth in order to grow and stretch its branches weathering sun and storm with transformative majesty.

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