“Your future self is more important than your current self.”

September 15, 2023 | 
2 minute read

These words come from Dr Benjamin Hardy, an organizational psychologist and the world’s leading expert on the psychology of entrepreneurial leadership and exponential growth.

But is this true? Even in the most toxic and dire circumstances?

Here’s one board we worked with that was in rough shape…

We posed the following statement in an anonymous survey before we started our work with them: “A high level of trust exists between the board members.”

6 out of 7 board members said they “strongly disagree” or “disagree” and 0 out of 7 agreed with that statement!

Talk about toxic. So, what do you do in that situation?

As humans, we typically default to looking for the problem. What’s wrong or what’s broken. It’s hard-wired into our brain stems to look for the threat.

But perhaps there might be a better approach?

Instead of asking, “What’s wrong?” or similar problem-based questions, we invited them to reflect on more appreciative questions.

Here is the sequence of generative questions we invited them to reflect on individually and then share what emerged. Sometimes we invited them to share with one other person before sharing with the group.

[PURPOSE] Why is it important that you chose to be on the board
[APPRECIATING OUR PAST] What strength do you notice in your survey results
[CELEBRATING OUR FUTURE] 1 year from today, what do you want to celebrate about how we work together as a board? What does our 2.0 culture look like, sound like, feel like?
[PRESENT COMMITMENT] What are you willing to commit to in order to achieve this 2.0 culture?

What came out of it?

For those who came into this board workshop with toxicity and negativity, these questions helped them to reframe their past and their future into the one that was more based on what they wanted in the first place. And they left with significantly greater hope and commitment to move towards that bright, future self.

Here is what they came up with in their co-created 2.0 culture:

Here’s a blinding flash of the obvious…


And yet we get stuck so many times. We forget to look at the existing strength we can build from. We forget to put our present self into a more appreciative perspective of what we want in the first place.

What we focus on determines what we see. What we focus on also determines what we miss.

If you’re struggling with toxicity like this… You’re not alone. Many boards and teams are going through these challenges. The good news? Turning that negativity around may be more accessible than you think.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to support THRIVERS – our community of small, community-based nonprofits. Your donations are having an impact. 

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