I’ve talked about the way anyone can be lucky enough to predict the future. That breaks down at the individual level of a person or a company. So, barring the use of a time machine, how do you predict the future, or at least get an idea of what might happen? In short, there are two ways, and they cleverly support each other. Think of it like a success formula.

The first way is to transcend ‘now’. One of the reasons I encourage everyone to blog, even if it is just on a private blog or in a text file on your machine, is that doing so clarifies your thinking. It captures it too.

Conversations are very fleeting things. We talk. We move on. The only artifact left is whatever might have permanently changed within the minds of those there, and however that might propagate along to other individuals. Some conversations are world changing, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Most thinking and conversation is completely transitory, with little lasting impact. The process of committing things to media refines and captures them for future benefit.

One of the reasons I am usually seen with a camera, a recorder, or a piece of paper and a pen in my hand, is my growing passion for capturing things. Maybe I’m teetering towards kleptomania, but I believe our thoughts are too valuable to loose. Our creativity is a unique and valuable gift, and a key problem solving tool.

“Past performance is no guarantee of future success”

No comment on that, with regard to the finance markets at the moment. However,

“The race is not always to the swift, or the fight to the strong, but that sure is the way to bet.”

Extrapolating “now” is a tricky thing to do, but I mentioned that capturing conversations and thoughts allows us to transcend ‘now’. When we are predicting what might happen next, rather than limiting ourselves to current thoughts, we can call on our previous thoughts and decisions. They help to shake us free of any momentary bias, and also provide a check against past predictions.

Keeping a journal is nothing new, people have kept journals and sketch pads since writing began. What is new is the ability to make them more social, to open up those thoughts to others to augment that data. This blog has 192 posts that I can draw on when I’m thinking about productivity, and communication (and social media of course). But that’s not all, there are also 433 comments from people around the world. Likewise I have posted almost 1,000 photographs to Flickr, 95% of them have been commented, notated and tagged by both friends and people I have never met (if we did meet in the last year, there might even be a photograph of you there). That’s not to mention the 30,000 people a month who read the blog and look at those photographs.

Blogging has helped me learn more about my friends and co-workers. Now I am better able to support them and they are better able to support me. If I have a question I don’t know the answer to, I can usually find the right person to ask to get a good answer from. Sometimes I get an answer to a question I didn’t even know I should have asked. The combination of historical context, and a wise crowd, gives me much more certainty in predicting the future.

I mentioned that there was a second way to predict the future. It is a harder path, but one that the most successful companies and leaders follow: If you want to know your future, then create it.