Step One: Idealize the Destination. (Don’t be Realistic!)

The Olympic downhill skier prepares for her race with an exercise in visualization. Eyes closed, hands clenched around imaginary poles, the athlete traces every contour and turn in her mind. Finally, she visualizes her triumphant finish, a world record and a gold medal celebration.

During the race her conscious attention is trained down the mountain on the gates ahead. Her reflexes are taking care of the present obstacles. She has visualized the run dozens of times. Her mind is trained on future challenges two or three gates down the course and, ultimately, on victory.

High achievers in every realm of endeavor engage in some version of positive visualization. World-class athletes, successful entrepreneurs and groundbreaking inventors don’t reach those pinnacles by imagining realistic outcomes. The Olympic skier knows there are dozens of talented people in the race. Even if she’s highly ranked, victory is unlikely. She plans for victory anyway. The entrepreneur knows hundreds of companies are competing with him for capital and customers. Still, he visualizes his company’s eventual market dominance and writes that accomplishment into the business plan. Investors aren’t looking to fund average companies planning for marginal success. They are looking for visionaries with victory in mind. Savvy investors know that unless the entrepreneur plans for great things, great things will not be achieved. Maybe the gold medal is unlikely. But if the athlete isn’t aiming for a gold medal, then it’s nearly certain that her destiny will not include a turn on the winner’s podium.

This is not a book about my own idealized vision for humanity’s future. This book is about the process of forming and nourishing a collective vision. Yes, I have my own idealized vision as I suspect most people do. My vision is informed by all my quirks, my unique social conditioning and my prejudices–just as every person’s vision is a product of their unique background and biological makeup. The world we will realize in subsequent generations will be an unpredictable aggregate of myriad individual visions and real-world circumstances.

If you’re curious about the beautiful and abundant world I, as an individual, visualize in our future and you’re not patient enough–or charmed enough–to read this book through to the end, you can skip forward to the Epilogue where I lay it out.

Humanity has the technological and intellectual capacities to preserve for our great-grandchildren a world teeming with life and human prosperity. Why would we plan for anything less?