Mental Models (part 1): Forward…AND…Backward

The great algebraist Carl Jacobi once said, “Invert.  Always invert.”

I’ve been thinking a lot on the concept of visioneering lately, not just on the blog but also with some big decisions that I am facing.  I thought that I would share a mental model that I’ve learned to be very useful.  It’s the process of thinking through scenarios both forward AND backward.  Let me explain.

Should we make a change to our core brand?  Expand into a new target market?  Go full-time into social work?  Start my own business?  These are just a few examples of decisions some people face…simply put, it can be tough.  Reason and logic only go so far with the increasing number of unkown variables (i.e.—what about work, stability, failure, resources, income, contacts, competition, etc…???)

I believe whole-heartedly in the quote, “Your decisions determine your destiny.”  This is where the ability (or rather decision) to think both forward and backward can become so valuable.  Jacobi noted that you’re absolutely no good in algebra if you can’t turn the problems around and solve them backwards.

Next time you have a crucial decision…try this.  Instead of just asking yourself what you have to do now in order to work towards your goal, start with your goal in mind 1st and then work your way backwards towards what step you can start taking now.  It’s a simple exercise that can yield significant results.

Most great visionaries had an idea of what could be as they then thought back to what they began with.  Continually build mental models from different disciplines of life and you’ll be well-positioned for success.

By: Micah Davis


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