Management Practices

The Future is Embedded in the Present

Leon Alexander | August 5, 2014 | 8:40 AM
Leon Alexander, president of Eurisko

Our progress in the technical and creative side of our industry today, is because Vidal Sassoon didn't conform to the mindset of legacy hairdressing and saw a vision of women with natural geometrically cut creations. Vidal was an unreasonable man!

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him. The unreasonable man adapts the surrounding conditions to himself. All progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw

If we carefully watch what is going on in the world, we should get to the same results as other people. But we don't. So what makes the difference? The difference is not what we have learned, but in how we thought about it. It's our mindset! Over the years we have developed certain rules to discipline our minds and filter information. We match and measure information against our own experience, using our values and mindsets.

Mindsets are the ground on which rain falls and then plants sprout depending on the mindsets we have, and this leads to different conclusions. It's how we receive information, that is the key.

Judgements in almost every area are driven by mindsets, from world affairs to personal relationships. Mindsets work like fixed stars in our heads.

We all would like a picture of the future. How will commerce, trade and production be affected in a world where literacy is in the decline and visual communication is in the ascendancy? How will online purchases affect sales and service in salons?

We are culturally conditioned to be right. The teacher is right, the boss is right, our parents are right. Political parties have institutionalized having to be right. Imagine if all that energy that goes into trying to prove the other side is wrong, were channeled into actually thinking about what was best for whatever the dispute is about. Having to be right is a barrier to learning and understanding. It keeps us away from growing.

Each breakthrough breaks old mind sets. That's the character of change. Discoveries grow out of something that is already there. Apples had always fallen to the ground, but Isaac Newton saw "the deeper meaning." The earth has always circled the sun, but Copernicus and Galileo observed the evidence and made the connections.

Geniuses often build on details that many people spot but cannot connect. The future is a collection of possibilities, directions, events, twists and turns, advances and surprises. As time passes, everything finds its place and together all the pieces form a new picture of the world. In a projection of the future, we have to understand where the pieces will go, and the better we understand the connections, the more accurate the picture will be.

The history of civilization, generally, is that everything gets better. Life expectancy, living conditions, and freedom of choice have improved. What distinguished the people who led the way? Many of them like Einstein were willing to detach from the values, rules, and expectations of their time to aspire to higher goals. In the fourteenth century, one of the most innovative periods in human history began, and was later called the Renaissance. Men and women stood up to break the shackles of the mindset of the Middle Ages and open the door into the modern age. They laid the foundation of our modern civilization.

How we feel about the evolving future tells us how we are as individuals. Do we search for stasis, or do we embrace dynamism? Do we think that progress requires a blueprint, or do we see it as an evolutionary process? These two poles increasingly define our intellectual and cultural landscape.

The history of the written word goes back 6,000 years. Words tell, words explain, words advise and words touch. They create pictures of worlds never seen, allow ventures never dared. But now, the romance is fading. Imagination is outperformed by the instant picture. TV, videos and movies are replacing books. It is a visual culture embedded from childhood and that culture is taking over the world, at the expense of the written word. Our literacy and our communication skills are in a decline.

As almost everyone has access to the same technology, what will make your salon stand out? Design is one of the key competitive advantages a salon can have. In the future it will probably be the only one that is left. Design separated Apple from other hardware companies and Vidal Sassoon from other hairdressers. Fifteen years ago, companies competed on price. Now it's quality, tomorrow it's design! The aim is to create services and products that look sharp, function intuitively and wake a positive emotional response from the consumer. Design has emerged as one of the most powerful forces in the world. China is becoming aware of design as an added value. They have more than 400 schools offering technical design courses.

In the future, nanotechnology will be able to snap together building blocks of nature easily, inexpensively and in most ways permitted by the laws of physics. It will fabricate an entire new generation of products that are cleaner, stronger, lighter and more precise.

We are all challenged to find a balance between progress and constancy, between ambition and meditation, between the profusion of high tech and the lack of high touch. We are challenged to re-invent a business model that includes both morals and meaning.

Our lives are a product of our thought patterns and beliefs. We created our current circumstances. This means whatever circumstances or challenges we have in our life now, we have the power and ability to change it. Most of the time people are not aware of the type of mindset they have. Individuals with fixed mindsets do not like to fail, they believe it's a negative statement on their basic abilities. People with a growth mindset love challenges and are motivated by failure. People like Alexander Graham Bell and Vidal Sassoon had a number of failures before they got it right.

Each of us must affirm our own individual creativity. Although many facets of creativity are similar, they are never identical. We do not choose to be born, we do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, or the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. But within the realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we will live. With purpose or adrift, with joy or joylessness, with hope or with despair, with humor or with sadness, with a positive outlook or a negative outlook, with inspiration or with defeat, and with honor or dishonor. No matter how indifferent the universe may be to our choices and decisions, these choices and decisions are ours to make. In the end, our own creativity is decided by what we choose or refuse to do. As we decide and choose, so are our destinies formed.



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