LSD thinking

Take an LSD trip to figure your future

Don’t panic – calm down – this is not an enticement to partake in hallucinogenic drugs (well, not unless that’s your thing and who am I to judge?) – but this is genuine advice that I received over 20 years ago and it has served me extremely well ever since.

In the 90’s, I was uncertain of my future. A political decision to remove import restrictions that had previously protected the manufacturing industry that my wife had been steadily growing a business in, resulted in the collapse of many established businesses over a three month period. As a new entrant into the market, the growth of my wife’s business over five years had largely been funded by levering personal assets.

We lost everything.

The business, the house, the cars, the lot.

We were left with a few personal items and that was it. We were faced with a life changing decision Рto stay in the country of my birth surrounded by friends, family and the safety of established business contacts, or risk everything by moving my wife and two young daughters half way across the world without any family, job offers, or any business contacts, in order to build a new foundation from which we could all grow and develop.

We asked friends and family for advice – what should we do?

That’s when my uncle told me:-

“you need to take an LSD trip to figure out your future”

Look – take stock of where you are now. Look at where you are thinking of going. Take yourself there if possible. What does the future in this new place look like? What things can you see happening on the horizon?

See – what the implications of the future hold. What are the differences between where you are now and where you are thinking of going? What would it take to get you there? What changes need to be made? What will be better, what will be worse? What sacrifices do you need to make? What are you expecting to gain?What factors do you have control of? What if you do nothing?

Decide – choose a path. Don’t become a victim. Don’t let the future just happen to you. The future holds many paths – pick one to start walking down – you can always pick another one later if you decide on a new destination or if that path turns out not to be what you expected – but keep moving or you will be overwhelmed by your past.

LSD – Look, See, Decide

This simple mantra became the foundation for all aspects of my life and indeed became the cornerstone of my professional career in Research, Strategy and Futuring.

In later life, I was asked by a university professor to present to a room full of MBA students on “how I do what I do” and I told him that I was going to tell them all to “take an LSD trip” – he was slightly taken aback and didn’t think that would have been an appropriate message ……… so I changed the mantra to –

“What, so what, now what?”

for the presentation.

  • What – is the current state and the future of ………….? (you fill in the blanks)
  • So what – are the implications to society, industry and individuals?
  • Now what – should you do about it?

This is essentially the process that all analysts and futurists go through – some using very sophisticated tools – but essentially answering these same three questions.

Horizon Scanning is a core skill that is easily turned into a habit that can have a significant impact in your life and particulary in your business. I regularly run workshops on the topic for teams of all sizes to help them become better prepared for the future – please get in touch for more info.

Oh – and I still prefer to refer to “taking an LSD trip” – it at least gets the conversation started!


Photo credit: -Jeffrey- / / CC BY-ND