A corrected trajectory.

At the beginning of the year I published my blog on what was trending in 2015. If you were following me then, you might recall that these were my predictions on music, social media, smartphones and cyber-security. (All linked in some way to my book,  The Faces in the Rain.) I was thinking about how you never see people face up to their predictions, and I always wondered how they measure up. Which is strange, because doesn’t anyone want to know if the sooth-sayers were right or wrong? Yet it seems that no one cares about auditing past predictions because we live in the present and look to the future. Unless we can’t, as on this memorial weekend, we are doomed to remember, in singular or collective pride or disgrace. It was a soothsayer who warned Julius Caesar about the Ides of March—a catastrophe looming in the middle of the month. (Read Alex Horton’s affecting article in The Daily Beast.) 

More interesting, and certainly more important is the need to monitor predictions, especially when they might influence the trajectory of our lives. Let me make a distinction: We understand predictions and trends, but what exactly is a trajectory, and how are they different? Dictionary.com describes a trajectory as:

  1. the curve described by a projectile, rocket, or the like in its flight.
  2. Geometry: a curve or surface that cuts all the curves or surfaces of a given system at a constant angle. (Bold is mine.)

When we think about the trajectory of a life, the geometric meaning is more applicable.  If a “given system” is a life, then what is that force, that will, that geometric template that cuts all the lesser curves and surfaces in a life? This question dawned on me when I listened to the charming interview with Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air.

Somewhere in this interview with comedian and podcaster, Marc Maron, she mentions the expected trajectory of her life. Expected trajectory. (Listen to the whole interview by clicking on the photo below.)

MarcMaron and Terry Gross

The difference, I think, lies in understanding that trajectory is not a goal, not a target destination. It is a momentum based on the parameters we are given. Our given system provides a stricture to constantly follow. Which leads us to make statements like, “it is what it is”. Predetermined. Fate. Rigid acceptance of trajectory has generated a thesaurus of folklore, brainwashing us into believing that doing what is expected, is the right thing to do. Indeed, society relies on this. But is it the right thing correct?

It is what it is. Unless it isn’t.

What if the momentum is based on parameters we choose? What if the arrow we launch must alter its trajectory because the target is moving? Inflection Point is well-known in geometry, and in business. The trajectory of a life comes to an inflection point more commonly for negative reasons than positive. People make decisions because they have to. Or want to. Less so because, for their own good, they should. However I think the tendency is to not disrupt.

There should be a word for proactively making a constructive disruption. CONRUPTION comes to mind. Your usage of either word will be subjective, but choose you must. The point is, the parameters (influence, trends, socio-economic status, expectations–to name just few) do change, but often they don’t change the trajectory, or they change, though only under duress.

Why is this? The Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert tells us that we have a tendency to believe in an optimistic future. So why disrupt that? How much unrealistic expectation can we tolerate? See his Ted Talk here.


Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self

He ends his TED Talk saying:

“The bottom line is, time is a powerful force. It transforms our preferences. It reshapes our values. It alters our personalities. We seem to appreciate this fact, but only in retrospect. Only when we look backwards do we realize how much change happens in a decade. It’s as if, for most of us, the present is a magic time. It’s a watershed on the timeline. It’s the moment at which we finally become ourselves. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.”

How has your trajectory changed in the last ten years? And if it did, was the outcome better? Proactively taking action to change your trajectory half way through is exerting your freedom to choose.

Okay, with that in mind, and in the spirit of appreciating the fact that values change over time, I looked at how my predictions are coming along after just six months. It turns out that I was wrong in some cases and, although these are superficial factors, they have changed the trajectory of my life in the sense that the efficacy of my book is based on these trends. Which accounts for my constant revisions, and if those make for a more compelling read, then, yes, the trajectory of my life has changed.

Music streaming:

THEN: Music streaming services will get smarter. We’ll have more choice, better search.

NOW: Wrong. Just the opposite. Services get meaner; to the listener and to the artists. Industry? What industry? Listen to the Verve discussion here.

Phones and data theft:

THEN: Possession and ownership of data: In 2015, people will begin to understand the difference…

NOW:  I have just one word: Hilary. (The public debate as to whether she owns her private email rages on.)

ID Theft:

THEN: Identity Theft: Not a question of if, but when, in one form or another.

NOW: Surprisingly, a slight improvement, so wrong again. See the Fortune article here.

Anonymity and hide-in-plain-sight/cybercrime:

THEN: Anonymity: The flight to hide-in-plain-sight will increase. See the Wired article.

NOW: Okay, I got this one right. See the FireFly report here. “This latest tactic by APT17 of using websites’ legitimate functionalities to conduct their communications shows just how difficult it is for organizations to detect and prevent advanced threats,” said Laura Galante, Manager, Threat Intelligence, FireEye. (BTW, this is exactly the tactic Allison uses to hide from the cybercrime syndicate–or so she thinks.)


THEN: Users will be torn between openness and privacy. Multiple factor authentication will become normal. Law enforcement will resist encryption.

NOW: In addition to the fingerprint identity sensor on the iPhone 6 (released after my predictions), Samsung now has: SamsungIrisScan


THEN: Authenticity: …will bring value to crowdsourced solutions. Authentic ideas will attract followers.

NOW: (for something entirely different..)

Not my thing, but Ellen Degeneres’ recent guest Tyler Oakley, who has 6.9 million followers on YouTube, talks about pop culture, and what’s going on in his life. When Ellen asks him why he thinks he is so successful, he replies, saying, he thinks people just want to see authentic lives, the good and the bad, and just see him being himself. That easy. Oh, and BTW, no meanness. (I agree.)

Conclusion? Authenticity works.

And a trajectory adjustment every six months is a way to stay proactive.

Watch him review someone’s else’s YouTube video. Warning: this is crude. And very funny.


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