Do you ever feel like you are just a step behind?
I don’t play chess anymore. My ego can’t handle it. As much as I try, I just don’t seem to be able to beat anyone at the game. The board looms before me, its pieces beckoning to be used. But I find myself paralyzed. The problem is not the game, the problem is in how I see the pieces. I see what they can do NOW but I can’t seem to envision where they are taking me. Good chess players are skilled at seeing what’s ahead, maybe 3-5 moves ahead. To them the entire game is about getting ahead of their opponent. When I move my pieces, my competent opponent is already anticipating what I will do.
There’s no chance of me winning when all I am doing is reacting to what is in front of me. My only chance is to find a way to get ahead, to be proactive.
One of the observations of leadership that I have recently had is that many of us in leadership positions live in a constant state of reaction. We are less intentional and more impulsive in how we lead – and we pay a price for it.
If you read any books or articles on being a strategic leader, you will find two necessary components. Strategy is first about competitive edge. It’s about how you will succeed. At Intentional Impact, we look at strategy in light of vision. If you know where you are going, the plan, or strategy will allow you to answer the question of how you will arrive. Seeing where you are going is great, but vision is not enough. We need a strategy that aligns with our culture.
But strategy is more than just a plan. Strategy is about getting ahead.
I have found that I need to understand three things if I plan on getting ahead.
Understand where I’ve been
When driving a car, it is important to understand how to use your rear-view mirror. Imagine if cars were designed without the ability to look behind you. For me to go anywhere, I need to be able to see what is behind me.
What are the lessons of the past? What are the guiding principles that you have learned from past failures and successes? I have learned over and over that I cannot waste my pain or my joy from what has happened in the past.
What do you understand about your past?
What have you learned from your church’s or organization’s past?
Understand where I am
Secondly, I need to be aware of the current reality. Staying with the car analogy, I’m not sure I can get where I need to go if I am only looking forwards or backwards. I need to understand what is around me to navigate toward the future.
In leadership terms, this is the ability to assess.
Recently, a church leadership team underwent what we call a Leadership Audit. We led them through a process – as a group and individually – in which they wrestled with understanding where they currently stood, considering the mission God had given them. One by one they looked at strengths and opportunities as well as gaps that needed to be filled. This honest assessment allowed them to start the process of getting ahead.
What is your current reality that will allow you to move forward?
What about your current situation can keep you from proactively getting ahead?
Understand where I am going
My last “understand where” comes from needing to see what the future could hold. The past needs to be brought into the present for the sake of the future. Without an understanding of where we have been, and without the clarity of current realities, where we might go in the future is not really a vision, it’s more of a pipe-dream.
Tying them all together, “where I’ve been + where I am + where I am going”, followed by focusing on immediate, near-term action can be a tremendous catalyst towards your preferred future. It allows clear, proactive planning and scheduling. In other words, we can be strategic, have a competitive edge, and finally start getting ahead.
Do you know where you are going in light of where you have been?
Are you able to make decisions and focus your schedule based on what the future holds?
I still don’t play chess. But I actually think that’s a good thing. If I can’t get ahead, then maybe I need to play a different game.
Let’s Talk about a Leadership Audit for Your Team – Get Started Today
Our Highly Successful Process – Customized for You and Your Context – Helps You Build Teams That Execute Change
Are you driving while looking in the rear view mirror? What holds you back from the future you can achieve? Tell me in the comments below and I’ll reply!