Friday May 29, 2020
You’re a leader. You’re expected to be visionary. So what happens when you constantly look at the future through the lens of what was?
When we screen everything that's happening around us through the lens of what was, all we can see is constant change. When we look backward, we tend to glamorize the past. It becomes the good old days which the now and the future is contrasted with.
In doing so, we fail to be visionary. We fail to see the "new." We see the "now," but rather than seeing it as new, we see it as change. And then it all becomes an addition or subtraction from what was.
The future doesn’t necessarily evolve from the past. Change is evident when things evolve over time, but a lot of things don’t work that way. What springs up in terms of new opportunities isn’t really “change” and may not be an evolution of the old at all. It may be entirely “new.” It’s all in how you see it. Even more, it’s all in how you help others see it.
What do you see… future or past; new or old; potential for an enticing future or change from how good it was? What lens do you look through… what was or what can be? What do you communicate about it?
They say hindsight is 20/20. It's not. Sometimes it's embellished; sometimes it's jaded. We have the advantage of being able to look back and see great leaders who overcame what at the time may have appeared to be insurmountable obstacles. Often we only see the outcome; the success. We may not see the scars that were part of the process; the tenacity it took, and the times that the great leader didn't feel so great.
Seeing through the lens of what was, will cripple our future if the past is our only reference point. When we allow the past to define the future, we're anchored. When people on our team do that we may label them as "change-resistant." Maybe they aren't. Maybe they just haven't been able to see the new. Maybe they need leaders who are not only visionary but really good at explaining the vision until those who would hold to the past become willing to let go of it for the compelling future a leader helps them see.
We should learn from the past - what worked; what didn't; what we should try again and what we should try for the first time; the tenacity and scars that success was built on. After all, when we couple history with vision it becomes one of the more powerful ways to align a team.
If we view things from a lens of what can be in the future, we may see new opportunities, new ways to be efficient, new product lines, new revenue streams, new connections, new paths forward, and new resolutions to old problems. People want leaders - need leaders - who are inspiring and visionary, especially in times like these. This is a great time to be seen as one.