Time Travel: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson


Time Travel: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
12th December 2016

Last night, I caught a film on TV called Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. It’s a rather interesting high concept science fiction movie. Tom Cruise plays a man who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. On this day, the soldiers of Earth are battling an alien invasion, and the aliens are winning. Every time Tom Cruise’s character re-lives this day, he takes note of how events unfold, and he uses that knowledge the next time around to fight the aliens more effectively.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and my imagination couldn’t resist toying with the idea: what would I do with such a power? If I could relive 2015 for example, knowing what I know now, what would I do differently? Fascinating thought, isn’t it? How about you? What would you do differently if you could go back in time to January 2015?

But let’s come back to reality: the truth is that there is no time machine or – in the case of Tom Cruise’s character -alien blood (don’t ask) that can send you back in time and give you a second chance to relive any part of your life. Once time is gone, it’s gone. That is why it is the scarcest resource in the world. You can’t store it, you can’t trade it, and you can’t get it back once you use it. Each day, we are all given the same amount of it. The difference between those who succeed in life and those who don’t is in what you spend yours on.

So none of us will get the chance to relive last year, unfortunately. We remain trapped in the present, and 2016 remains stretched out before us like a long, narrow, winding path through an unruly thicket. We have no idea of what lurks behind the next corner, or what danger awaits us in the days to come. We have no way of knowing what the future holds. Or do we?

I’m sure you have heard this popular expression: “The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour”. Well, could there be some truth in that? Could we perhaps figure out how 2016 will go for us by studying how 2015 went?

In 2015, the nation was in darkness for two-thirds of the year, one night of rain killed over 150 people, and the cedi spent at least nine months bouncing up and down like a yo-yo. What does that tell us about 2016 though? Can we cast our eyes back over last year and learn enough to safely navigate ourselves and our nation through the unknown pitfalls of 2016? Perhaps we can.

That’s one school of thought. Permit me to suggest another.

One of my favourite Americans was Peter Drucker, the economist and business philosopher. He said, ”trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window”.

Drucker’s point is that trying to base the future on the past can be a bit hit-and-miss. What if there’s no Dumsor this year? What if it doesn’t rain? What if the cedi rises (ei miracles happen, wai)? What if any of the million things that are not directly under our control happen this year, to send us on a path that is dramatically different from our experiences of last year? What then?

To Peter Drucker, a much safer bet for a better year would be to simply choose that better year for yourself. Take as little or as much guidance from last year as you want, as long as you decide for yourself what kind of year you want to have in 2016, and then spend every second of every minute of every single one of the 354 remaining days making the choices that will win you the year you desire. It’s all down to the choices you make. Every single one of them.

My friends, we really don’t know what’s around the corner. It’s all hidden from us in the darkness. Plus we’re probably looking the wrong way anyway. We can’t peer into a crystal ball and divine our future. Just as we can’t turn back time and relive the past, like Tom Cruise’s character. We can only choose what to do with today. So let’s choose wisely, and win ourselves a great year in 2016.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and the best way to predict the future is to create it.