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3 perspectives that can help you achieve holistic productivity

It takes more than IQ to make a success of your life. It takes EQ as well. In this article, Kavita Mehta takes a close look at the building blocks of EQ - hindsight, insight and foresight. She explains what they are, how we can nurture them, and why they are important.
BY Kavita Mehta |   24-02-2020

BrainGain Magazine

Picture yourself to be a class 10 student. Your teacher, Mrs. Dwivedi, is droning on and on about mitochondria. But your head is elsewhere – before the school day began, you were reprimanded by your father because you woke up late and almost missed the bus. You cringe at the memory and shudder from fear. Your mind starts to wander into ‘what if?’ scenarios; you decide to occupy yourself by doodling.

About halfway through a caricature of a friend, Mrs. Dwivedi is bellowing with rage, her gaze falling directly upon your drawing. Much to the surprise of everyone in the classroom, including the teacher, you retaliate. Given your emotional state, your awareness level is low and you lose your cool quickly and completely, suddenly assuming the shape and characteristics of a mass of squeals and tears.

To deep dive into your emotional condition, let’s talk about the “sights” that will help you see this situation from three perspectives. In order to learn from this, we must consider the following: Could you have reacted differently? Managed the situation in another way? Interacted with your teacher in a more productive fashion? Let’s find out…

Three sights that can help you to learn from any situation

The “sights” that help us build from life experiences – insight, hindsight, and foresight – are important change agents. They are the foundation for developing effective solutions based on past experiences and anticipation of future possibilities. They help us avoid mistakes and introduce a sense of direction as well as resilience into our lives. They are inextricably linked to one another and are each equally vital to developing holistic perspectives.

  • Insight can occur before, during or after an event.
  • Hindsight occurs after an event. It includes reflecting on that which has passed.
  • Foresight occurs before an event. It is developed in response to having been in a similar situation earlier. Think of it as muscle memory that develops over time, with the help of hindsight and insight.

Initially, hindsight fuels both insight and foresight. As we develop and mature, all three sights begin to inform and support each other. It can be useful to look at the “sights” in the form of a ladder.

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Let’s take a step back and picture the enraged teacher, combative student event that took place in school. This is the first step on the ladder.

Hindsight: The second step is hindsight. You view the showdown that took place with Mrs. Dwivedi in hindsight, once it has passed. Like the prefix ‘hind’ implies, the event is now be‘hind’ you, and you are left processing it so as to ensure, to the best of your ability, that history does not repeat itself. Through hindsight, you actively remember and analyze the situation that took place and run “what if” and “should have” scenarios on what you might have done differently. Remember, we cannot change history - only learn from it. Therefore, hindsight is a ‘descriptive’ sight. It helps us define, describe, and understand what has already passed, so that we can frame more effective responses to what is yet to pass.

Then comes the next step – insight; one of the trickiest tools in the box. 

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Insight: Meaningful insight is gained only when your state of mind is not clouded by the situation at hand. You are able to better understand a problem from afar, when you are not in the midst of its chaos.

As the hindsight you have gained begins to integrate into your thinking systems, your thoughts and feelings about this chaotic state will soon take form in new, interesting, and INSIGHTFUL ways! They will become active when you find yourself in similarly chaotic states in the future. It’s kind of like a doctor’s education. Doctors-in-training attend medical school to learn all they need to know about the human body, its ailments, and treatments. All this is in preparation to respond effectively and appropriately in situations that require them to draw upon a well of knowledge to diagnose something in real time. Insight is our ‘diagnostic’ sight, the one that gives us the skills to break down a situation in real time and frame a response that is more considered than spontaneous.

This is the third step of the ladder. These insights will soon mature to become foresights, which co-align with desires. This will eventually help you decide (and act on) what kinds of situations you want to find yourself or those you should avoid.

Foresight: This sight allows you to frame life and your experiences in the ways that you want versus finding yourself time and again in situations that are sub-optimal. With the benefit of foresight, you are now climbing up the ladder smoothly, with fewer doubts and greater confidence.

Think of how you use your phone camera in ‘burst’ mode; you take multiple shots in rapid succession and then decide the one you’d pick to keep for future viewing pleasure. In the same way, insight and foresight enable you to rapidly consider a range of responses (based on past experience, reflection, analysis, and anticipation) to select the one that is ideal, both in the short and long term.

Class 10, Revisited

Let’s go back to Mrs. Dwivedi and the caricature scenario. In hindsight, it is clear that the reason for your extreme response to a teacher’s expected reaction in a tense, yet anticipated, situation was inextricably tied to the emotionally harrowing exchange with your father earlier that morning. It’s also clear that your reaction was overblown in proportion to the teacher’s expectations.

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This may be the first time you realize and understand that your emotional state due to event one (with your father) can affect your reactions and actions during event two (with your teacher). One of the long-term lessons you gain is that of compartmentalization. You learn to section off the thoughts and emotions related to an earlier event so that they don’t interfere with a future event. Foresight is therefore our ‘predictive’ or ‘prescriptive’ sight. So, had you been able to compartmentalize and ‘predict’ on account of having gained some experiential knowledge, your response to Mrs. Dwivedi would be less volatile and more docile even if the harrowing event with your father had still taken place earlier in the day.

Hindsight is primarily characterized by reflection and is most productive when you are able to create an environment of clarity and self-acceptance. Remember, hindsight fuels and informs your ability to have insight, and insight helps formulate foresight. Moreover, what is also interesting to note is that foresight further gives you the ability to harbor insight, and therefore change the course of certain situations in real time, while we are in them.

The next time you find yourself in a confrontational situation, you may be equipped with enough insight to ensure that you do not act in ways that are harmful or unproductive. Further, you also carry foresight into the future so that you can avoid or pre-empt troubling situations.

As we all go through life, and climb the metaphorical ladder, all our “sights” become stronger. They constantly inform each other of their individual experiences and come together, unifying to create an atmosphere of balance and holistic productivity.


Kavita Mehta is a successful entrepreneur, mentor, and business leader with 25 years' experience in building platforms and products that help change people’s lives. Her latest venture, Lore, opens quality education up to everyone who wants to learn, grow and develop their skills and confidence. Lore provides personalized education solutions, regardless of background, age or any perceived limiting factors.



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