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We All Have One Personality Trait That Defines Our Future. Google's Chief Innovation Evangelist Shares How to Identify Yours. I like to call it your 'Dimension X.' Once you know what it is, you can make choices that move you forward.

By Frederik G. Pferdt

This story appears in the May 2024 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Pete Reynolds

You may have heard this question before: "What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?"

I know this is a popular way to package the "wisdom" of someone with experience or success, and as Google's first chief innovation evangelist, people asked me this sometimes. But I never got it. Why would I ask my older self what my younger self should have known or done? The missteps I made or the odd turns I took back then are part of who I am now. Offering someone else a road map of my own pitfalls and speed bumps would give them a defensive strategy, at best. No one's gaining any yards by looking in my rearview mirror.

But I do think it's useful for people to do a retrospective on their own lives, noting meaningful milestones, because those moments tend to reveal something very important: a personality trait that I'll call your "Dimension X." This is your unique superpower — the lens through which you see the world — not as it is, but as you are (to gently paraphrase Anaïs Nin). Over time, your Dimension X becomes a signature reflex that plays an increasingly important role in shaping your future. It's your through-line response in events that move you forward. And if you cultivate it, it can act like a strong, confident hand on the rudder in your day-to-day decisions and in your overarching narrative.

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