So many of us wish we could be ahead of the curve. If only we knew what was around the bend or what significant innovation was coming next, we’d have such a leg up.

Knowing the future (the future of business, the future of tech, our own future) feels so crucial yet so far away for so many.

This hurdle reminds me of a similar conundrum I had when I was in Elementary school. Back in those days, I had this huge desire to become the next big inventor. I thought of ideas, wrote them down, and often participated in the school’s annual “Invention Convention”.

While I enjoyed my young pursuit to be the next Tesla, I remember frequently being frustrated. Frustration often happens when you are attempting to do the impossible. I wanted so bad to be innovative that I was leaping to conclusions and grasping at straws. Roller blades with rockets attached made for a cool drawing but was there a market? Did it solve a problem?

Inventing, at the time, seemed like guessing mixed with a hard dose of luck. That dose of luck is what I figured others called genius when it worked out. In my mind, ingenious folks simply guessed correctly, so they were rewarded.

At that young age, I failed to grasp one major understanding. Tomorrow’s future is always rooted in today. My dad would encourage me, seemingly delivering the same message which I didn’t comprehend, “Don’t invent something. Solve a problem .” He understood that while the light bulb apparently came into existence out of thin air that it innovated on the desire for candles and problem of darkness.

What feels like a leap of innovation or a stroke of genius from an outside perspective, really is a simple progression of need. The products or outcomes might be stair stepping upwards, but the demand and capacity to fill said demand is always gradually building to that.

That’s why thinking about the future has less to do with guessing and everything to do with understanding people’s behaviors, their wants, and their desires today. Don’t invent something, solve a problem. Don’t guess at where we will be in 5 years, think about what about problems can are solvable now.

Every day we have more resources, more information, and more technology to meet the problems of yesterday. Problems that were made into mountains become more like molehills every single day.

Those solutions, those opportunities, when executed upon, are glimpses into the future.