Over three years ago I graduated into an uncertain job market from an institution with the motto “Non Incautus Futuri” which roughly translates to “Not Unmindful of The Future.” The motto was the subject of much derision among my friends and family for its awkward construction and use of the double negative. Since securing a job, a useful set of skills, and a fellowship in GovLab I have come to appreciate the enigmatic nature of the motto. I have interpreted it as striking a balance between acceptance of an uncertain future and resistance to unconscious decision making.
I hope that my time in GovLab will allow me to better recognize my patterns of unconscious bias and rewire the approaches I have learned to problem solving. “Thinking Fast and Slow,” “Drive,” and “The Power of Habit” all address the motivation behind actions we take without much consideration. By first identifying the motives that trigger my routines I will have made an important first step to avoiding routine thinking. However, as the motto accepts, mindfulness is not a static achievement, but a constant struggle to combat our lazier and less engaged selves.
Being conscious of my conventional thought patterns will allow me to avoid using the same problem solving techniques that produce the same outcomes. I hope that new approaches and different inputs will allow me to develop innovative answers to difficult questions facing government executives. The ability to recognize my own constraints and rebel against them is key to my success as an innovator, and I hope will be a measure of my competence in GovLab.