Past, Present, and Future

Food For Thought, Learning, Uncategorized

Location, Location, Location.

We’ve all heard it and we know how true it is for real estate, golf balls and back scratches. It’s also a big deal for thinking. Where our mind is will often determine where our mind goes.

Where have you been spending most of your time lately? I’ve been a bit of a frequent flier in the last few weeks, bouncing around between the past, the present and the future.

As you may know, Thought Design celebrated its tenth birthday a few weeks ago. That milestone has been an invitation to flit around on Memory Lane. We’ve been looking at photos, telling favorite old stories and remembering forgotten details.

I’ve also been spending a lot of my time, as I often do, in coaching conversations and team sessions where I have to tune completely into the here-and-now, minute to minute. Being fully present, in the present, is the only way I can be of value in those environments.

We are also at the halfway point of the year, so our team has been doing a deep dive into our formal processes of strategic thinking. Our minds are propelling forward into the future, locating themselves months and even years from now.

All of these locations have their benefits.

Taking thinking to the past can be really fun. Reliving pleasant memories brings gushes of dopamine and oxytocin, making us feel grateful, loved and happy.

Being in the present can be even better. Research suggests that this is the location that should be our default, where we choose to be most of the time. It increases focus, stabilizes mood and improves relationships.

Mentally going to the future is also important. It generates purpose, hope and forward momentum. While we all know that tomorrow isn’t a guarantee for any of us, taking our mind to days ahead can be an important way to make sense of today.

And then there’s the downside of spending too much time, or the wrong kind of time in each of these locations. Too much time in the past turns into rumination, too much time in the present can lead to shortsightedness or impulsivity, too much time in the future can make us unrealistic or paralyzed by worry.

So how does one choose the right location?

I’m not sure there is a real answer to that question, but it seems to me that the most important thing isn’t exactly where we go but that we are making the choice about the location. Not just where we go, but how long we stay there. Like being a houseguest, it’s all good until you’ve overstayed. My time traveling adventures lately sure have been fun.

It’s been a blast to revisit old places in my Thought Design years, to play around with architecting our future with my amazing colleagues, and immensely satisfying to be with people as they do hard and important work of their own. Thanks so much for going with me. I just wish Delta would give us miles for this stuff.

When and how do you choose your location?

Do you have a favorite location? An over visited one?

Where do you want to be today?

Just some food for thought.