Perception of Time Blog 2: Success Stories

Again we are writing about time. In our last blog we told you about a fascinating book: “The Time Paradox” by Zimbardo and Boyd. We described three ways people experience time: past, present and future. We are going to tell you some of our success stories and one from “The Time Paradox.”
Zimbardo and Boyd tell a story about a soccer team in the Republic of Ghana. Soccer or football as they call it is a national passion. The team was full of raw talent but they were undisciplined. They were late for practice and sometimes they did not show up at all. Ghana tends to be a very present oriented culture as are many cultures in tropical countries. The team’s lack of future orientation limited their ability to be a winning team. Creativity, raw talent and passion were not enough. In 2004 Ghana hired a Serbian coach who happened to be future oriented. Temperate countries tend to be more future oriented.
This new coach changed things dramatically for the team. He instilled an expectation for future success. The team could no longer continue to be present oriented. Everyone needed to show up on time for practice- no exceptions. The new coach added discipline and structure to their practice. The outcome: for the first time in history Ghana qualified for the World Cup tournament. This is the power of future thinking.
In our Smart Work Ethics classes we have seen students move from less realistic goals (becoming a pro wrestler) to learning a practical skill. High school drop outs decided to get their GED or enrolled in community college programs. We have had parents who took home their notebooks and began educating their children in work ethics and eventually their husband. We have seen kids move from no hope to hope for a better life.
All children start out as present oriented. So, how do we help present oriented children become somewhat future oriented adults? Zimbardo and Boyd give us some other tips for becoming future oriented. Here are a few:
1. Living in a stable family
2. Becoming educated
3. Having a job
4. Using technology
5. Being successful
6. Having future oriented role models
These stories tell us that it is possible to help our present oriented youth become successful adults. In our next blog we will be discussing some ways to help our youth make these changes. We will be telling you why programs designed by futures often do not have the desired success rates with present oriented students.

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