Thinking Ahead

Heirloom plants are a part of the world’s history. They were the original plants that were grown in some cases centuries ago. Heirloom plants are propagated from seeds and cuttings. Today these heirloom plants are collected in seed libraries, but at one time it was against the law to collect and propagate heirloom plants.

Heirloom plants seemed to be a fringe idea of limited value to society. But with climate change and the growth of the world’s population, heirloom plants have taken on a new purpose. In some areas, heirloom plants are much better suited for our current climate conditions than more common plant varieties. In addition, heirloom plants offer a biodiverse genetic makeup that are being investigated for new pharmaceuticals.

Imagine the forward thinking of those who decided that it was worth while to maintain those original plant varieties as society was moving toward “improved” species. Certainly, this forward thinking is not a common trait.

Those who think ahead often do so as risk protection. They ask themselves: “What could go wrong?” Military campaigns are often won or lost based on the ability to assess risks and have alternate plans.

In other cases, thinking ahead is more of a response to the question of “where might this lead us?” Steven Jobs as Apple’s co-founder was especially forward thinking and was able to see future possibilities.

Thinking ahead is also about imagining what our society will look like in the future and then developing ideas that will respond to or capitalize on those changes. The effect of climate change was being examined in the mid-20th century but largely ignored.

Those who think ahead are sometimes called futurists. The name gives the concept of thinking ahead a kind of mystical aura. Thinking ahead needs to be a trait possessed by any leader, but there are questions that need to be resolved if that is the case. How do we prepare people to think ahead when rewards are more focused on present situations? What approaches work best to convey to others what the future might look like? How might we invest in possible future situations when there is no certainty what the future will be?


“Plan ahead:  It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”  -Richard Cushing (Roman Catholic Cardinal)

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