For years, I’ve told potential speaking clients that one of my goals is to intentionally leave the audiences I address half excited–as well as half terrified–by the future. I justified this approach by explaining that some people are motivated to change in response to opportunity, while others require an element of fear in order to unlearn their old ways and embrace change.

This approach may still have some merit: There are many reasons the future may be better than today and there are multiple scenarios where the future may be disruptive and less-than-ideal. 

The deeper truth is that effective leaders and organizations hold both realities in their heads and hearts at the same time. An unavoidable principle of the future is that it unfolds simultaneously in a variety of ways and directions. The ability to embrace this ambiguity and uncertainty is a critical skill in navigating and creating a successful future.

To this end, however, I’d like to publicly admit that my past approach of attempting to both “excite and scare” my audiences has not been the most effective strategy.  

I recently had breakfast with an extraordinary futurist, Cecily Sommers. I’ve admired her work and her best-selling book for years and, over the course of our short conversation, she informed me she tries to leave her audiences feeling calm.

This simple insight struck me like a sledgehammer. While I am sure our perspectives on the future may differ on the margins, I am also confident we share and discuss many of the same trends, tactics and strategies for dealing with a changing world. Her approach of “calming” her clients and audiences strikes me now as the wiser approach.

Recently, I’ve been striving to live into this insight by more forthrightly recognizing and speaking about matters of the heart and faith. In part, I have been doing so because I know at “a level beyond knowing” that heart and faith are essential to successfully navigating and creating the future. In larger part, the intrinsic and impossible to measure attributes of heart and faith also instill in me the hope and optimism to approach the future not with fear and trepidation but rather with courage and confidence. In short, my heart and faith calm me.

In many ways this post is a long-winded way of saying I intend to bring a more calming approach to my work as a futurist for the simple reason that I have faith in my heart that this is the wiser approach. (A “tip of the hat” to Cecil Sommers).

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Jack Uldrich is a leading futurist and keynote speaker. He is the author of 14 books, including most recently, Business as Unusual: A Futurist’s Unorthodox, Unconventional and Uncomfortable Guide to the Future and “The RE Generation: Sowing the Seeds for a Future of Reimagination, Reconnection and Regeneration.”