Re-thinking the Cultural Narrative

hacking your future

Hacking Your Future is a free weekly memo that provides readers with practical and applicable tips for uncovering their future success. Readers are challenged to re-imagine their personal and professional narratives, goals, and objectives, and re-invent their lives and work in a manner consistent with their new vision of the future.

This week’s focal point: I recently watched a documentary based on the work of Daniel Goldhagen, that addressed the issue of genocide and explored the question of how human beings could commit such atrocities. One of the most impactful findings from his work is that despite what most might think, the perpetrators of these heinous acts were not crazed individuals. Instead, he points out that they knew what they were doing, believed it was right and made a conscious choice to act.

These incidents (the Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia, Guatemala, Cambodia) were fueled by a collective belief that their victims were sub-human, a threat to progress, a drain on the nation’s resources, and an “evil” that must be rooted out. It’s hard to imagine what ideas and beliefs could cause another human being to act in such a way. In each of these incidents, those who carried out these crimes had allowed someone else, such as a leader or a political party, to construct a narrative about the world for them. This narrative determined how they viewed their world and what their role within it would be.


We are being bombarded daily by one narrative or another. Many of us have chosen to align ourselves with the views and opinions of politicians and media pundits on the left or the right, rather than examining the issues and information for ourselves. This has led to the extreme political polarization we see in society today. As a result, we have been unable to work together to make meaningful progress in addressing the great obstacles (environmental degradation, increasing inequality, unsustainable lifestyles) we currently face.

In order to overcome these obstacles, we must free ourselves from many of society’s prevailing narratives. If we do not, we are bound to fulfill the roles (consumer, polluter, debtor) that others have given us, often to our own detriment. If you do not like how your story is unfolding, then it is time for you to construct your own narrative and take the first step in creating a more positive future for yourself and those around you.

The Fulcrum: The obstacles we face in the 21st century requires leaders at every level to challenge their own ideas, question the ideas and models of others, and work toward creating a future that inspires positive action.

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Check out my podcast series called The Futurist on iTunes.

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© J.P Nichols & Associates Inc. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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