By Dean Whittaker

Learning can sometimes be painful. One painful lesson I learned this month is that not everyone thinks the same as I do. It was one of those “duh” moments that sticks with us. I have always been fascinated with the future. Growing up, I lived on science fiction beginning with Flash Gordon (for those of you old enough to remember), on through all of the Star Trek series and beyond.

When I designed this month’s webinar, I carefully crafted a webinar to be one in which I would want to participate…trends impacting the future of economic development. How cool is that? We had two great panelists share their views of the changes taking place that will have a profound impact on economic development. Steve Grable, SIOR with Jones Lang LaSalle Logistics Group shared changes taking place in supply chain logistics. Ted Abernathy, Executive Director of the Southern Growth Policies Board, shared with us the shifts taking place in public policy that impact economic development.

The only thing missing from this month’s webinar was the sizable audience to which we have become accustomed. What I failed to realize was that not everyone (in fact, very few people) share my enthusiasm for thinking about the future. This point became clear when I was sharing my fascination with the future scenario process with one of our state legislators. He said to me, ‘Every time I talk with you, you make my head hurt. I don’t care about the future. I only care about the now.’

“The problem with knowing the future is this: Our present is the future of some past. Even years ago, many people were dreaming about today and what it would look like. Today seems so obvious to us now. Why doesn’t tomorrow seem as obvious?”

So, I am content to think about what’s next. Realizing the benefit of thinking about it is in the now and is what moves me forward, always striving to see beyond the horizon. While the future may not be knowable, is certainly thinkable.