Welcome to the future, where all our dreams come true – but so do all our nightmares.

John Sanei

By John Sanei

May 6, 2020

W elcome to the future, where all our dreams come true – but so do all our nightmares. 

That’s a scary thought right now. Both our fears and desires have been dialled up by the rampant spread of the Covid-19 virus, the unprecedented pandemic that is currently rewriting the rules of our reality. 

It’s my job to discuss the future with people and companies, and make plans for that future. For years I’ve been speaking, advising and writing about the transition from the logical thinking and rigid structures of industrial society to the unbounded potential of our hi-tech tomorrow. These are often conversations laced with trepidation or even fear as we make plans for a world that is impossible to predict. We are quite possibly the first people in history to witness in real time the collapse of the world we once knew – the way we do business, structure our society, build our governments and policies, how we connect and collaborate, what we consume, how we spend, the definition of education, our travel patterns – and on and on. Some of the people I work with understand this and are ready for tomorrow, but many don’t get it and refuse to face the new reality, carrying on with traditional incremental adaptations in an exponential world. 

I believe the Covid-19 pandemic is here to remove any shadow of doubt. (For one, it is grimly making clear the power of exponential growth in every infection and death-rate graph we see.) Not only is the world we knew collapsing; it’s now collapsing uncontrollably. Things are changing, and now they’re all changing at once.

The virus is shaking the foundations of the society we have built over centuries. But in truth this is a change that has been coming; it’s simply more visible now. And although this is a painful time, there is a rare opportunity amid the chaos: this is a universal reset that allows us pause for reflection. 

Stuck in our homes, unable to work and socialise, we are being forced to contemplate our place in the universe. To slow down. To stop using the frantic pace of life as an excuse to hide from some hard truths. Without the burden of busy-ness, we finally have FUTURE NOW INTRODUCTION 12 13 the time and space we need for sustained physical and emotional introspection that will see us emerge brand-new and ready to rebuild something better. 

Before we can start creating that reality, though, we need to find a way to process our feelings and fears, which have been amplified by extreme circumstances – because right now everything is extreme. If you were sick before, you’ll feel worse now (underscored by the threat of death virtually unknown in the modern developed world). If you were holding on to anger, it will be magnified by your isolation and uncertainty. If you were in a harmful relationship, it will feel inescapable. 

Our hesitations and doubts are all turbocharged. 

However, beneath that fear and negative emotion the opportunity waits to be grasped: we have a chance to thrive like never before and prepare for the collective future we all want. This is our chance to escape the overheated industrial revolution that brought us to this point; to stop chasing the fictitious goals we were never going to reach; to lift our heads up to the new day and replace self-interest with the ability to lift those around us in turn. 

In all the years I’ve spent speaking with great enthusiasm and excitement about the future, I’ve seen crowds wowed, but I’ve come to realise that no book, video or presentation would ease that quiet fear of looking to the future and facing the unknown. 

That’s why this [book] has nothing to do with the future – as we thought of it a year ago, or six months ago, or six weeks ago. Covid-19 is now our future and I won’t even attempt to build a scenario for the future in these pages – it’s in motion as we speak. Instead, I’m going to share a framework that has helped me access new energy and realign my outlook despite the shock and grief of what’s happening around us.

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