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”The best way to predict the future is to create it”-(Quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln).
20/20 vision in optometry is a term used to describe visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision measured at 20 feet. (I understand the metric version is 6/6 vision: visual acuity at 6 meters, but I digress).
A person with 20/20 vision can see clearly at 20 feet what should be seen at that distance. 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean perfect vision but only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance.
People like me, who have visual near-sightedness (or myopia) know how difficult it can be. I struggled with Technical drawing (T.D.) and mathematics in early secondary school because I couldn’t see from the front row of seats what the teachers wrote on the blackboard, and therefore couldn’t follow the lessons. Not until I started wearing medicated glasses, and became ‘four-sighted’, by which time I had dropped T.D. like a hot potato!
Being foresighted, that is, having the ability to foresee or predict what is likely to happen and applying sound judgment to wisely prepare for the future, is akin to having 20/20 vision.
But it goes beyond being able to foresee things likely to happen. Having seen into the future, a person needs to take appropriate action to address what is foreseen. A person with 20/20 vision who sees a hole on his way but does nothing to avoid it, would be in the same situation as another person who did not see the hole and fell into it: both would be in the hole. In other words, foresight only makes sense when it is a combination of vision and action. That’s the import of Abraham Lincoln’s quote above.
With the rapid changes happening in today’s world, not being foresighted is fraught with danger, and could cause a person to stumble and fall into holes figuratively -speaking. So, just as it helps to become ‘four-sighted’ by wearing medicated glasses to correct myopia, it is critical to develop and sharpen foresightedness.
Foresight can be developed logically through one’s past and current experiences. Whilst history is not always an accurate predictor of the future, it provides a fair indicator of what could be, so remembering lessons from one’s experiences can help to prepare for things ahead. It is said that experience is the best teacher and that hindsight is 20/20 foresight. Consider though, that experience is not just what a person goes through, but what a person does with the experience. Paraphrasing Will Rogers, ‘Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement’
However, I do think that learning from experience should not only be from personal experience. I am told that the idiom, ‘experience is the best teacher’ is of Welsh origin, and that its full rendition is, ‘experience is the best teacher for a fool‘. Sounds harsh, but it ‘suggests’ that it is wiser to learn from the experience of others.
Author – Lampe Omoyele