Chapter 2. Personal Foresight - Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Vision – Five Goals and Ten Values

The third priority in the HRVWE model of personal adaptiveness is Vision. After mental and physical health, and good relationships, our next highest priority is to be future-oriented, or foresighted, and to balance foresight with hindsight and insight. We need to engage in Three Ps foresight at one level, and the Eight Skills at another level, to better understand our own lives, and be more adaptive.

The foresight we usually care most about is preferable futures, our ability to envision a better world for ourselves and others. When we have strong personal foresight, we see what will probably happen in the hours ahead, our natural tendencies if we don’t mentally intervene, we see a good number of our possibilities, we use our preference foresight to envision and make better decisions, which leads us directly to Work, our next great life priority.

We are each emotional, cognitive, and moral creatures. So let’s talk briefly each of these three aspects of vision, to better understand how to apply personal foresight in our lives.

Let’s discuss emotions first, since they are the first and fastest drivers of our emotional-cognitive-behavioral cycle. An excellent introduction to the power of emotions on one’s personal life, and ways we can reshape our emotional triggers can be found in Chapters 2, 3, and 6 in Tony Robbins Awaken the Giant (1991/2013). (The full name of this excellent book is Awaken the Giant Within. I prefer to shorten it to Awaken the Giant (AWG) as “within” is implied. You can use STEM compression anywhere you like, to make either informational or physical processes more concise, focused and powerful. Try it!

In a future education system, I’m hopeful that these topics and skills, and books like AWG, will be taught to every child or adult seeking emotional insight, foresight and self-control. These chapters remind us of the importance and power of our daily decisionmaking, and of using personal foresight to continually making good choices in the moment.

Each of our daily decisions, large and small, are constantly steering us toward emotional pleasure and away from emotional pain. Because of this, if we change our emotional cues, our pleasure and pain motivators, we can change the thrust of our decisionmaking, toward good or ill. To break a bad habit, like procrastination, we can focus on the negative consequences that we experience from it, and actively decide to do something different today.

Robbins offers a great insight in Chapter 2 of AWG: “The more often you make decisions, the more you’ll realize you are truly in control of your life.” This is so true. Make decisions every day, and see how powerful your personal vision gets. Chapter 6 of AWG will convince you that you can even decide what you want to assign your pleasure and pain motivators to in your neural associations, past, present, and future. Those decisions are the most empowering—or disempowering—of all the decisions we ever make.

Decisionmaking, of course, is just forecasting plus action. Futurist Paul Saffo and forecasting expert Philip Tetlock both say that if you must forecast, forecast often. The more you do it, the better you get. You also realize that vision, leading directly to decisions, is your central tool for improving your life, and the lives of everyone around you. Getting them excited to make decisions will start making changes happen. The more decisions we make, the better we get. We can turn this insight into a mantra (a saying important enough to memorize): make good decisions constantly. We’ll discuss mantras later in this chapter.

Next, cognition. Books like Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions, John Hammond et. al. (2002) will help you and your clients with the cognitive aspects of personal decisionmaking. So will all the books we have listed under professional and personal foresight in Appendix 3 (Resources). We don’t need to reiterate those here. Just remember how powerful your decisionmaking becomes when it is cognitively diverse and collective. Be sure to keep your Do loop tight, so you’re getting constant feedback from those daily decisions. Check in with yourself every day. Are you happy with your day’s decisions? Anything to change for tomorrow?

Finally, think about morality. For many, this is the toughest dimension of vision. Learning how to make good decisions requires not only good emotional and cognitive approaches, and lots of daily practice, but we must cultivate a useful set of values, attached to an adaptive world view. How can we best define good? How do we envision social progress? A good progress model tells us what values we hold important, and what goals we are trying to reach.

This Guide proposes that Five Goals and Ten Values are particularly universal, if we live in an evo devo universe. They are fundamentally important for good self-leaders and team-leaders to keep in mind, and they need to be continually balanced against each other in service to greater adaptiveness. These goals and values can help us better measure and guide social progress, in both our personal and professional lives. We will discuss these goals and values in more depth in Chapters 7 , 8, and 11, but let’s take a first look at them now.

Five Goals and Ten Values of Complex Systems – An Evo Devo Model

We can look at any complex adaptive system from the basic physical perspectives of evolution and development, and from a third “emergent” perspective that comes with living systems which generate preferences. All intelligent complex systems are pursuing evolutionary, developmental, and evo-devo sets of values and goals.

Consider that a basic goal and drive of human society is to create, and to experience things like beauty, diversity, experimenting, play, and fun. Another basic goal and drive is to discover, and to understand things like truth, universality, optimality, predictability, and constraint.

The Five Goals are categorically convergent with Plato’s Transcendental Triad of universal values, the Good, the Beautiful, and the True. The Good is evo-devo, or adaptedness, the Beautiful is evolution, or diversity, and the True is development, or universality. We can split the Good into three broadly useful adaptive capacities, Intelligence, Interdependence, and Immunity.

Empowerment may be the best single term to describe what we all seek from a Good Society. We describe empowerment foresight and empowerment activism as applications of the evo devo foresight model in Chapter 11. When we use the word empowerment in this Guide, it always intended as a stand in for advancing the Five Goals. How to best do that, is of course much more art than science today.

In adaptive leadership, we want our visions to get us more of the following Five Goals:

  • More Innovation (freedom, beauty, awe, creativity, inspiration, re-creation, play, fun)
  • More Intelligence (information, insight, knowledge, options, diversity)
  • More Interdependence (empathy, ethics, connectedness, love, understanding)
  • More Immunity (power, wealth, security, fairness, stability, equity)
  • More Sustainability (order, truth, science, experimentation, rationality, optimality)

Growing as many of these as we can, without shrinking the others, will allow us to live Good Lives, lead Good Organizations, and grow Good Societies. The heart of the good, in this model, is empathy and ethics. Those are the glues that holds all adaptive systems together.

In addition to the Five Goals, we recommend thinking of progress as the pursuit and balancing of Ten Values. These values derive from the Five Goals, in two sets of five, the first being more evolutionary and the second more developmental, as follows:

Evolutionary Values: Empathy, Insight, Diversity, Freedom, Creativity (EIDFC).

Developmental Values: Ethics, Power, Security, Order, Truth (EPSOT).

The first value set can be remembered as an EIDetic (Photographic Memory) Foresight Challenge (remembering evolutionary values). The second, EPSOT can be remembered as the Second-generation of EPCOT (Disney’s Experimental Community), which aimed to be guided by developmental values.

Again, in our most adaptive systems, the universe is continually creating, and seeking to create:

  1. More Empathy (love, compassion, understanding, connectedness).
  2. More Ethics (morality, fairness, synergy, positive-sumness, interdependence).
  3. More Insight (dematerializationvirtualization, modeling, consciousness, intelligence).
  4. More Power (densification, wealth, strength, STEM compression (exponential production efficiency & density).
  5. More Diversity (information, individuation, specialization, difference, independence).
  6. More Security (awareness, protection, safety, risk management, immunity).
  7. More Freedom (bottom-upness, indeterminacy, options, uncertainty).
  8. More Order (top-downness, structure, regulation, constraint).
  9. More Creativity (unpredictability, novelty, imagination, fiction, experiment, innovation).
  10. More Truth (predictability, optimization, accuracy, inertia, sustainability).


The values we choose to live by are critically important. In Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker argues that the Enlightenment values of reason, science, humanism and progress are the main reason most of our civilizations have made such astounding progress in the last two centuries. I would agree with Pinker’s perspective, once we generalize it to include the Ten Values, plus the concept of Incompleteness, which we will discuss in Chapter 11. As we’ll see there it is better not to consider incompleteness a value, but rather, a state of reality, that causes humanity to employ not only reason and science, but also faith and beliefs, with respect to the Ten Values.

Pinker reminds us that Enlightenment values should never be taken for granted, as many societies, institutions, and individuals act against them. He notes that these values are sometimes forcefully opposed and temporarily defeated by the misapplication of other values, including authority, tradition, faith, mysticism, intuition, ideology, romanticism, and exclusion. Such opposing values aren’t bad in and of themselves. They all have their place. The problem comes when our values are applied in ways that cause Enlightenment values, and more generally, the Ten Values, to suffer.

While Pinker would not agree with the value of faith and mysticism, I think that is a shortcoming of his world view. All intelligence is incomplete (finite), and thus all thinking beings, now and in the future, must have some form of faith and belief (unproven intuition) with respect to complexities they cannot understand. Some of those intelligent beings, including some of the AIs to come, will clearly be moved to evolve and develop community practices (ideological, spiritual or religious) around their shared beliefs. Agnosticism and atheism also have such communities, and they are also beliefs.

In Chapter 7 we will see that Values 3 and 4, dematerialization (insight) and densification (power), or “D&D”, seem particularly helpful to seeing and managing accelerating change. But while D&D tells us about accelerating change, all Ten Values seem equally important to adaptation.

As we describe in Chapter 11, accelerating the growth of intelligence or immunity alone is never enough to make a Good Society. We must also develop our moral and empathic capacities (interdependence), and keeping those two values central to our thinking is the foresight leaders most important challenge. Evo devo thinking tells us that we are always balancing values of innovation against those of sustainability, and seeking to do it in a way that grows our interdependence. In this balancing act, many processes that impact people need to stay constant or slow down (decelerate) as others are relentlessly speeding up. The way you balance each of the values in the set, and work to advance them all, is up to you to feel your way through, every day.

Life is complex, and we have many useful values beyond these ten. Yet if we live in an evo devo universe, these Ten Values seem especially important, when cultivating an adaptive world view. The deeper we understand this magnificent universe in which we are embedded, and where it appears to be going, the better we will understand and manage our own values and goals here today.

Successful leaders will develop personal, organizational, and social visions that pay close attention to each of these Ten Values, and use their language as often as they can, to help people get the most meaning and purpose out of their work.