What Is a Futurist and How Can They Transform Your Thinking?

Some experts call it “chronophobia.” Others call it “anticipatory anxiety.” Whatever the name, it’s a pervasive fear that snakes its way into your relationships, thinking patterns and professional decision-making: a fear of the future. 

This anxiety doesn’t usually manifest in big, noticeable ways. Instead, it inflects your thinking by handcuffing you to the present. You focus all your attention on reacting to current problems instead of planning for the future. And when the future eventually does arrive, it becomes just another of those current problems catching you off-guard. 

A futurist can help you break this cycle. If you manage a governmental organization or private business, a futurist can help you create a long-term road map for prosperity. And if you’re a person who feels stunted by anticipatory anxiety, a futurist’s insights may help you break out of the rut. 

Let’s explore.  

What Is a Futurist? 

There are a few compelling definitions floating around out there. But for a concise, authoritative definition, let’s look to the expert. 

According to futurist speaker and best-selling author Nikolas Badminton, a futurist “is a person that has unbounded curiosity about what our futures may hold. They practice foresight, write, organize events and engage with people to challenge their poverty of imagination.” 

Indeed, as the Chief Futurist at futurist.com, Badminton has worked with a bevy of organizations: NASA, Google, the United Nations, Bayer, Heineken, and the list goes on. He has also offered his insights to various media outlets like the BBC, Vice, Forbes, etc., in a bid to help people face the future head-on with courage and interest. 

How a Futurist Can Transform Your Thinking

Let’s stick with Badminton, who has been vocal about how a fundamental shift in thinking can unlock untold potential. Namely, this thinking involves moving from a “what is” mindset to a “what if” perspective

A “what is” mindset is something people do intuitively. Think of it like an amateur chess player tackling their first few games. They respond to current threats, view the board in its current state, and perhaps think ahead a move or two to plan an attack. It’s a short-term view of a game that has infinitely branching potentialities. 

By contrast, a “what if” mindset looks far into the future – 100, 200, even 500 years. Sticking with our chess analogy, we can say that a “what if” mindset is like a grandmaster in top form. They don’t look at the board in front of them; they envision the countless permutations of what can be. In this way, they are prepared to confront threats and make decisions based on a world that doesn’t exist yet. 

This simple paradigm shift can radically transform the way you think – on personal, interpersonal and organizational levels. Futurist thinking allows you to leverage your human curiosity to actively create the prosperity you want for yourself. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how futurism applies to your particular industry or areas of concern, consider deepening your research. Check out Nikolas Badminton’s writings on various topics, or hire a futurist speaker for your next keynote event. Break out of the current short-view cycle and start thinking like a grandmaster!

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