The Pollyanna Principles: Chapter 1

The following is excerpted from The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing ‘Nonprofit Organizations’ to Create the Future of Our World. The Pollyanna Principles will be officially released on January 25th.


Chapter 1: Future, Present and Past

We are creating the future, right now, with every action we take.

That is a simple fact. Today’s reality is the result of thousands of actions and decisions and occurrences that happened in the unchangeable past.

We cannot change the past, and we cannot change the present. The present – this very moment – is gone the minute we take a breath in and out. That in-breath is in the past, and soon the out-breath will join it.

As organizations and as individuals, however, we can indeed change the future.

In my own life, I can change what will happen five minutes from now by taking a different route to the office, by writing a different word on this page.

I can create the future. We can all create the future.

And we are doing so, right now, whether we do so consciously or not.


The future I want to create:

A future where my home, this planet earth, is at peace. Where all peoples share this global home, perhaps first in an awkward truce, and then in true harmony.

A future where our planet is physically healthy, where rivers run clear and clean, where air is pure, where the animals that inhabit this planet (including we human animals) and the physical environment are living in balance.

A future where we value our collective potential and responsibility as much as we value our individual potential and responsibility. A future where the true meaning of humanity, in all its ability, is present.

The list runs on and on. It is not much different from the list of what most people want for the future of our planet, our country, our community, our family.

To those who say, “Get real,” there is nothing more real than this:

We are creating the future, right now,
with every decision we make, with every word we speak,
with every action we take.

To date, as a global people, we have based our decisions on what we could see – what we knew from the past, and what we knew (and usually, what we did not like) about the present. We have made our decisions as if the only possible future was the one we could envision based on what we already knew about the past and the present.

What if it were instead possible to create the future we want, for our kids, our grandkids, and their grandkids? What if our decisions and actions were all aimed at that future? What if we had tools and systems that helped us bring that future about?


Assuming we can use today’s actions and decisions to create the extraordinary future we all want for our communities, what will it take for the work of individuals and organizations to accomplish that?

First it will require that we understand the path that has led us to today – not just seeing the path for what it is, but also understanding the assumptions and expectations that created that path.

From there, creating a different future will require that we consciously create a different path – a path that will lead us to the future we want for ourselves and for generations to come.

That is what this book is about.

It is first about identifying the assumptions we have come to accept as “reality,” to see how those assumptions have led to the systems we currently use to do community work. Before we can create effective systems change, we must understand those systems.

The book will then share a new set of assumptions and expectations, aligned behind the goal of creating a healthy, vibrant, humane world – The Pollyanna Principles.

From there, the book will share practical systems built upon those principles, showing how a new set of assumptions and expectations can not only transform the path we have been walking, but can indeed create the future we want.

By changing the assumptions at the root of planning, program development, funding, governance, resource development and other systems, and by developing new systems to align behind the future we want to create for our world, we will be taking the first steps along that new path.

Simply by creating and using those new systems, we will begin consciously creating the future of our communities and our world.


For Chapter 2, please click here.

Over the next few weeks, you can preview the whole first section of The Pollyanna Principles here at Creating the Future. If you want to be notified when each installment is posted, let us know. And please, link here to learn more about the book, and to review the table of contents (as well as all 6 of the principles).

One Response to The Pollyanna Principles: Chapter 1

  1. I love (and echo) your vision of the future you wish to create: a state of perpetual peace, compassion, harmony. etc. – why can’t we get it right once and for all!?

    Looking forward to the next chapters, Hildy. I’m hooked!