15 ½ Rules for the future – and one ramp.special
Future Rule #1: Beware of future bullshit.
Specifically, sentences that start with “In a time of ever-accelerating change” or “Never before has there been a time of such upheaval” or “The rapid change that is coming our way” should immediately set alarm bells ringing. This is what experts call “presentist vanity”. Stand up and shout, “Bullshit!” You probably won’t dare, but if you do, it will have a lasting effect. And not only with you.
Future Rule #2: For every trend there’s a countertrend.
The logic of trend and countertrend stems from a universal principle that can be derived from the world of physics: the concept of fractal development. If we throw a rubber ball on the hard floor, it jumps back up. Force and counterforce are elementary laws of nature. And this is how “the world” works as a whole.
Future Rule #3: The old always comes back – and renews itself in the process.
The future doesn’t come at us in straight lines, but in loops and spirals. Yet our brain tends to think linearly, on the one hand, and to polarize, on the other. This is because we are quickly overwhelmed by complexity.
Future Rule #4: Trust in natural intelligence instead of worrying about artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence may be capable of many things, but it cannot take away the cognitive processes of natural intelligence. Or, to use the words of Jack Ma, founder of the world’s largest internet company Alibaba: “Teach and learn what the machines cannot do. Learn values, independent thinking, arts, uniqueness, believing, teamwork, care for others.”
Future Rule #5: Understand the true co-evolution of people and technology.
Dignified technology is technology in which we appear as imperfect beings. Its “prosthesis effect” is low; it adds value. At the same time, it challenges us to move toward self-competence. This also requires our active participation in the man-machine debate: something like human emancipation through technology.
Future Rule #6: Recognize the true meaning of visions.
Visions are relationship work with the future. When we “implement” a vision, it doesn’t mean that we “follow” it. We are cautiously approaching a new reality. Visions have no drawing board and no master plan. Rather, they arise through a process of conscious variation and selection. Trial and error, but pointing in a certain direction.
Future Rule #7: Don’t mistake yourself for your fear.
Think of the second volume of Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver. The two fly around with an extremely powerful home-made magnet – breaking all the laws of physics. But that’s exactly how it is with our fear. Life is actually a kind of perpetual motion machine; and fear can serve to free yourself from the swamp of fear. Once we understand that, we will activate this fabulous, wonderful magnetism that will bring us back to the future.
Future Rule #8: Learn to think from the future.
The future doesn’t arise when we solve problems but when we re-solve problems by changing our inner concepts. The world rule is that problems are nothing more than systemic conflicts that cannot be solved in their current complexity. But in a later one.
Future Rule #9: Ask better questions instead of demanding the right answers.
How did Zen author Shunryu Suzuki put it? “The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the experts.” Good questions focus our minds on what we don’t yet know; they open the field of perception that lies ahead. They reestablish a connection between dynamic reality and ourselves. Answers are not that important. They will come later when the time is right.
Future Rule #10: Stop feeling guilty about the future.
Ever since humans have existed, people have said: the world is facing the abyss. It’s been like that since time immemorial. Actress Mae West once admitted that she had long been ashamed of the way she lived. Asked if she had reformed, she replied: “No. I’m not ashamed anymore.”
15 1/2 Regeln für die Zukunft. Econ, 2019. 250 pages. €25.00 (in German)
Future Rule #11: Reconcile yourself with the new world (dis)order.
One of the strange yet fascinating qualities of human beings is their constant search for “world orders” although they don’t really care about the “world” anyway. We long for an image, a construct that can be used to explain “the whole”. The hardest part is not understanding the future, but letting go of the past. To finally consider the unsettling as normal.
Future Rule #12: Make peace with the inequality in the world.
The world is unequal, but not necessarily unfair. Inequalities and non-simultaneities create new dynamics that make people grow. We should make sure of that!
Future Rule #13: Accept that the world can slowly get better – but never be completely “good”.
It is the problem of solved problems: the better we master and control something, the greater our fear of losing control.a
Future Rule #14: Overcome pessimism and optimism – become a possibilist!
Give up the wavering between optimism and pessimism. Both are basically narrow attitudes that make us unhappy in the long run. Turn to an attitude that Hans Rosling called “possibilism”: the world attitude of the possible.
Future Rule #15: The future arises from successful relationship(s).
To quote French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Inner growth causes outer growth, and that leads us into the future.
Future Rule #15½: The future is a decision. Here’s a little secret.
There’s no such thing as the future. At least none that can be “predicted” or “prophesied”. The world cannot be renewed unless we renew ourselves. It’s up to us.
Matthias Horx (born 1955) is one of the most influential trend analysts and futurists in the German-speaking world. He has been a passionate observer of transformation processes in business and society for over thirty years. Horx is the author of several bestsellers, including How We Will Live: A Synthesis of Life in the Future. In his latest book, 15 ½ Regeln für die Zukunft: Anleitung zum visionären Leben (15½ Rules for the Future: Instructions for a Visionary Life), Horx explains in detail his rules for understanding the future.