My mentors taught me how to predict the future.

Have you ever been in a situation where a glimpse of the future could improve the quality of a decision? I certainly have, especially since various companies are raising funds on future earnings using tools like elaborate discounted cash flow models, trend analysis and thumb sucking to convince investors of a valuation that still needs to be achieved.

Why is it that some people seem to be better at predicting the future than others? How did someone like Warren Buffett get a nickname like “The Sage of Omaha”?

In my quest to find answers to these questions I turned to my mentors. They are wise people who have achieved success in various fields like investment, psychology, personal growth, politics, free markets, strategy and business growth. The more I interacted with these mentors, the more evident it became that they seem to be accurate in their predictions of the future much more often than the average person. It almost felt like I could ask them anything and their predictions would come true.

While prediction of the future seemed like an extremely cool party trick, I wanted to know how this was achieved.

As I delved into the inner workings of this phenomenon, I came across the following methods that they employ as part of their craft:

1. Improve your frame of reference

Our understanding is limited to our experiences. It is therefore essential to improve the quality, quantity and standard of our experiences.

Almost every one of my mentors would travel to other countries to see how a certain industry is managed in order to improve their own operations. They would read books and find as much information about a topic as possible before pursuing an opportunity.

This quote from the richest man in Babylon encapsulates this thought very well:

“Proper preparation is the key to our success. Our acts can be no wiser than our thoughts. Our thinking can be no wiser than our understanding.”
2. Acquire the necessary skills

There are certain skills that improve predictions of the future considerably. Some of these are personality profiling, financial analysis, research methodology and common sense.

One of my mentors can walk into a room and give an extremely accurate personality profile of the majority of the people in the room within a few minutes. While other people are trying to look good for the crowd, he is analysing. By doing this, he is able to predict the probability of certain people getting along with others. He is also able to predict the actions of these people quite accurately based on their personality profiles.

3. Pursue wisdom rather than knowledge

I am unable to find the source now, but I believe it is Nido Qubein who said something like:

”Give them data and they will use you, give them knowledge and they will call you when they need you, but give them wisdom and they will respect you.”
When people respect you, they are more inclined to provide you with useful information that would give you insights into their business. If you have insights into the “trade secrets” of enough industries, it is almost like the matrix opening up in front of your eyes.

It is extremely important to handle this information with the confidentiality and trust that it was given to you and not to use it for any unlawful or unethical purposes.

4. Become more strategic in your approach, but don’t neglect the tactical aspects

I recently participated in a business simulation game at The National Library of Singapore as part of an extremely insightful business course. It was the second time that I participated in this game, but I realised the following with a shock:

“The terms tactic and strategy are often confused: tactics are the actual means used to gain an objective, while strategy is the overall campaign plan, which may involve complex operational patterns, activity, and decision-making that lead to tactical execution.”
We have all heard about the terms “tactical” and “strategic”, but do we ever sit down to contemplate the difference between the two? Then, do we consider the influence on our businesses if one of the two are lacking?

5. Learn the laws of nature from a master

I recently participated in a retreat to Indonesia with two masters in the art of predicting the future using a combination of data, skills, wisdom and knowledge. This was one of the most challenging, but rewarding experiences in my life.

After the retreat I had conversations with one of the masters as well as members of two extremely wealthy families and I realised something that I never anticipated.

Most of the extremely wealthy families, or tycoons as some may call them, take their families on retreats. These are extremely focused sessions with various masters. The small group would then learn from the master about topics like futurism, resolving unresolved childhood issues, spirituality, I Ching and various other topics that would support the personal growth of the members of the family.

It is therefore not by chance that some people are more likely to make an accurate prediction about the future. There are certain fundamental truths in this world that we are living in and as soon as you are exposed to these truths, the probability of making an accurate prediction is likely to increase.