Even in today’s fast-paced world, some individuals seem to have an uncanny ability to predict shifts before they happen. What sets them apart from people who miss important trends or get caught out by their timing? How can we more effectively have our finger on the pulse of the constant changes around us?

Clarity of Foresight:

I find the most prescient people I work with reveal a remarkable ability to simplify complexity. It is not that they see more than the rest of us. They see less. They see beyond the noise to what truly matters, focussing their attention on the most basic factors: what is falling apart and what is coming together.

It is not just about observing events. It is about feeling into reality itself, the creative processes that underlie all events. I suggest simplifying the vast array of possible perceptions to these two: those aspects that are fragmenting–what was whole breaking into parts–and aspects that are emerging, in the sense of becoming more fully what they are. 

Example of Fragmenting:

This comes from my recent experience at the Apple store. I got the demo of the new Vision Pro headset. It was cool… then shocking… as my reality became this rock face with a fully-equipped climber right next to me and a huge drop to the white water river below. Although part of me still knew I was still in an indoor mall, my whole body was feeling faint as my fear of heights kicked in, hands sweaty clinging to the table. I had to tell the headset specialist to cut the demo. This digitized scene had become real for me.    

We can see so many ways that we are each increasingly experiencing our own separate reality. Social media news feeds, geopolitical tensions, democratic norms, approaches to healthcare or climate. The list goes on and on.  

Recognize What Is Fragmenting:

The typical dialogue on such matters highlights events and activities. However, those with the sharpest prophetic instincts look inside all that to a more fundamental trend. What exactly is shattering into multiple fragments? It is not just about changes in computing, work, or news consumption. 

It is how we experience reality that is changing. How we experience ourselves. The old way of experiencing reality as rigid and hostile is shattering. The old way of experiencing ourselves as inadequate, one way or another. 

Practice (Part 1)

To sharpen your feel of how things are fragmenting, try the following practice (this first part may sound a little dark… don’t worry, we will see the brighter side in a moment):

Make a list of 5 things you value most highly. Could be a quality such as walking the street safely, a relationship with a loved one, or an object like your bed. For each item consider how it is fragmenting. Imagine them rotting, breaking up, or completing. Develop an instinct for where everything is in its process. It is almost like you can touch a thing–this keyboard for example–and instinctually sense how and when its demise might come.  

Example of Emerging:

Doomsayers rarely make good prophets. Along with all this fragmenting, other things are emerging. Again we want to see through the surface events and activities to new ways of experiencing reality, new ways we are experiencing ourselves as individuals and as a human community. 

One place we see this is in teamwork. I am remembering the team we put together to run a number of commercial real estate projects. When the projects were complete, the entire team asked to meet with me. They so loved the way we had worked together, they all wanted to stay together. Could have been doing any activity. A quality of respect had emerged between us and each participant felt that there was more to do together.        

Recognize What Is Emerging:

What qualities, and what new ways of experiencing yourself are emerging for you and those around you? We may see a new kind of intelligence emerging, new kinds of human communication, art, perspective, or sensitivity to nature.        

Practice (Part 2)

List 5 ways that your experience of yourself has shifted in the last year; 5 ways your reality has evolved in the direction of expanding awareness, deepening connection or having a positive impact. 

If it is happening to you, it is probably happening in some way on a global scale too. For each of the 5, extrapolate the shift in you to the whole human community. Come up with a word or phrase to articulate that quality or capacity that is emerging, and start to notice how much change is being driven by these. You can almost feel what it’ll be like in a new era when these shifts have emerged fully into the culture. 

Simplifying Complexity

Those with great prophetic instincts don’t rely on magical thinking but on clarity of vision. They constantly adapt to the interplay between what is falling apart and what is emerging. I would love to hear what you are discovering about how to keep your finger on the pulse of the changes happening in and around you.


David Lesser