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The futurist: Why who you were still matters -- and doesn't


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Whatever happened to that young child you were not so many years ago?

As a baby, life was all about eating, sleeping,and dry diapers. Even though you are learning new things quickly, not much else really mattered.

By the time you enter grade school, you have learned to walk, talk, feed yourself, and have fun with your friends. Mom and dad were very important and playtime is a central part of every day.

Entering high school you’ve grown much taller, in most cases, doubling your height from when you were two. Your eyes and facial features have many similarities and look familiar, but you are now very different. You are fascinated by music, television, and any time you spot a passing smile by someone of the opposite sex, it become heart-stoppingly important.

Relationships matter. Every new day has you seeking a different set of experiences. You take pride in whatever you were good at, and become enamored with things you enjoy.

Every personal relationship brings with it a different set of involvements. Your first kiss sets the stage for your second, and your first intimate moments become cemented into the very fabric of your being.

As you enter your 30s and 40s, your skillsets change dramatically. With age comes perspective, big problems become little ones, and over time, even the little ones faded away. In so many ways, you can now see the bigger picture.

In your 60s and 70s, you begin to feel time is running out. One moment of urgency gets replaced by the next, but urgency also comes with a new outlook. Your greatest memories become like gardens of eternal beauty, a place where you graciously linger whenever they show up.

It is in this progression that we begin to realize that the future has changed us every step of the way. Even though there are continuations to our personality and genetic structure, we are constantly changing. One cell gets replaced by another until we bear little resemblance to that person we were so many years ago.

And yes, you are now a different person than you were, even a few seconds ago when you first started reading this column. So why does this matter?

Here are 18 reason why the person you were still matters.

The Ball Dropping Experiment

Take a ball, preferably one that bounces, and hold it in the air above your head. As you drop the ball, consider the implications of what happens.

During the two to three seconds it takes to reach the ground, several things are happening.

The ball at 6 feet above the ground is younger and different than the ball at 4 feet, 2 feet, and the one that impacts the floor. At each of these intervals, the ball is represented by distinctly different space and time coordinates, and in perhaps a million different ways, the ball changes as atoms are rearranged, electrons shift, and the chemical composition is slightly altered.

So is the ball at 4 feet and 2 feet a continuation of the ball being dropped, or something else? From a digital thinker’s perspective, every micro-second of time requires all of our surroundings be visually refreshed, just like the computer display on our desk.

Does this mean that the dropping ball is actually 10,000 individual ball scenes organized is some cosmic way to represent the fluid motion associated with it moving towards the ground?

Probably not, but it also does not answer the fact that everything around us is constantly in motion, changing every micro-second of every day.

18 Reasons why the person you were still matters

The former you has set the stage for the present you, and the person you are today will become critically important to the person you become in the future.

  1. Memories – Every past memory helps crystalize who you are today.
  2. Shared Experiences – Every long-term relationship is built around shared experiences, and these shared experiences provide the common ground foundation for future ones.
  3. Emotional Values - Everything around you is constantly being emotionally rated on a subconscious level. That is why your car will generally hold more value than things like a skateboard or power drill.
  4. Skills – Learning how to perform a task efficiently ties directly into a combination of short-term, long-term, and muscle memory. While some skill will fade over time, their influence will remain for years to come.
  5. Your Body - Your present body came from your former body.
  6. Derivative Talents – Every talent you have is a derivative of some other talent, interest, or tendency.
  7. Physical Improvements and Physical Impairments – Every time you work out, it causes both short and long-term changes to your body and health. On the flip side, every time you hurt or injure yourself, it will also cause residual effects that linger over time.
  8. The Personality Equation – Every individual is a combination of attributes, tendencies, desires, interests, and about 20 more ingredients we don’t have names for yet. Some will change significantly over time, but others less so.
  9. Secrets – Hidden deep beneath the sub-floor of human consciousness are our secrets that can come back to haunt us if we don’t deal with them somewhere along the way.
  10. Struggles – Our struggles are what make our accomplishments valuable.
  11. Obsession - Determination becomes obsession and then it becomes all that matters. But from my vantage point, obsession is underrated.
  12. Possessions – Yes, it is possible to simply walk away from all of our possessions, but few people do. Not only do we own our possessions, they own us. And the things we own, very often influences our future decisions.
  13. Connections & Networks – We forge our weak and strong relationships through our connections. But today’s social networks give us the tools to amplify those connections in a massively powerful way.
  14. Inner Voice – Our most intimate of all intimate relationships takes place in the rarely audible space inside our head. We have a constant love-hate relationship with our inner voice, and even though we argue with ourselves, it will continue to influence who you are in the future.
  15. Hopes & Desires – Inside every great person is the hope and aspiration to become something better – more meaningful, more influential, more passionate.
  16. Reputation – If we’re doing things correctly, our reputation will enter the room before we do. Our reputation involves a multitude of variables, and is one of the most influential aspects of who we are.
  17. Quirkiness – Today's foibles can become tomorrow’s most admired qualities if we know how the leverage them.
  18. Legacy – For many of us, the disturbance we leave in the force field of life is the most significant accomplishment we can possibly make.
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Thomas Frey

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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