Chapter 4. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

I. Introduction to Personal Foresight 

This chapter is about personal foresight, the ways we can use foresight to improve ourselves, our relationships, and our families. Personal foresight is the first of the four main foresight practice domains, and the bedrock of all the foresight work we do. Most essentially, it is about becoming a self-aware, pragmatic, proactive, empathetic, intelligently optimistic, and happy self-leader. Self-leadership starts with self-understanding, but it also involves finding places worth going, making smart decisions along the way, and using all of the Eight Skills as well as you can. We’ll just scratch the surface of this vast topic in this version of the Guide, but hopefully you’ll find it a good start.

Personal foresight is in many ways the greatest journey each of us takes in our lives, as it makes us so much better at self-understanding, self-control, and self-actualization. When we do it well we, our partners, our families, and our colleagues can find and achieve inspiring visions and outcomes for our own lives, and leave a legacy for all to admire.

Without good personal foresight, you’ll make far less progress in life, and in your professional work, may not “get anywhere special” in your goals and aspirations, will be less able to produce great strategic foresight via the Eight Skills on your teams and with your clients. If instead you use those skills to learn and focus on the best use of your own traits, strengths, and abilities, “the sky is no longer a limit” to your future, as we might update the saying today.

We’ll outline a basic application of the Eight Skills to our own lives in this chapter, a discipline that is incredibly powerful once you understand it. We’ll start with the learning step, describing how self-understanding is often the deepest and most inward-facing journey each of us ever takes. In the anticipation step, we’ll explore the great value of understanding your predictable psychological traits, and their relevance to your foresight work, and the rest of the eight steps. We’ll also get a basic understanding of emotion and cognition, and how they work together to produce action in what we might call a Primal Do Loop. We’ll then discuss the topic of intelligence, and five useful ways to measure and improve it. We’ll next consider some basic issues of personal performance (prioritizing, bias, cognitive diversity, mastery, passion, and expertise), then turn back to anticipation, exploring some useful personality, trait and strength assessments. We’ll also look at how the management consultancy Gallup mixes traits with leadership skills, and see how the Gallup model ties into the Eight Skills. We’ll end with a brief discussion of healthy habits, and an introduction to one personal foresight skill, a task management and journaling habit (execution, prioritizing, and reviewing skill) called the Actualizer. Some version of this daily habit can be a great help to get things done, plan, prioritize, and see farther, and track and apply your trait and skill self-assessment work to your life and career.

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