I love it when one skill or habit creates benefits in multiple ways. If you could build a skill that helped you in strategic thinking, problem solving, and productivity, would you be interested in developing that skill? That skill is maintaining a future focus. Let me start by telling you a story …
The last task my dad taught me on the farm was an important one – planting corn. If the corn isn’t planted properly, it can have a huge impact on the quantity at harvest. But there was an additional reason why dad waited to teach me this skill. To my dad, one mark of a good farmer was their ability to plant straight rows. So, my dad wanted me to do it right, and plant them straight.
No pressure at all.
Dad taught me that if you want straight rows, you can’t be looking at the front of the tractor – you must pick a landmark as far away as you can and drive straight towards it. When you look too close, you will weave, over correct, and you might lose sight of your ultimate goal. With a future focus – when you look far into the future, you can see the obstacles close up without losing sight of your ultimate goal.
Learning to Drive
You know this lesson too – you learned it in driver’s training or from your parents. They taught you to look far down the road, not just past your hood. It is a safety habit, but it also keeps you from weaving all around your lane.
While I am sure everyone has been taught this, I’m pretty sure, based on some of the people I follow on the road, they aren’t all practicing future focus.
How a Future Focus Changes Your Thinking
- It broadens your vision. This is the obvious advantage we notice in our stories. When we maintain a future focus we see more things around us, which allows us to anticipate more ably.
- It makes you more flexible. Short term thinking makes everything seem like a change in direction and less like an adjustment. When help a team keep a future focus you will have less resistance to change, because everyone will see change as an adjustment.
- It keeps you purposeful. This is perhaps the key to my Dad’s advice of looking at a far point. By looking far ahead we are consciously and intentionally staying on purpose to reach our goals.
- It puts setbacks into perspective. The obstacle looks catastrophic up close. But with perspective we see it as a stumbling block, and a chance to adjust, not the risk of losing or failing.
- It helps you see progress. Perspective makes it far easier to see what has already been accomplished in the context of the goal. Seeing progress provides momentum and an ongoing feeling of accomplishment that helps us to continue on.
- It makes you more productive. Productivity is getting more of the right things done. And when we have a future focus is it far easier to see what the right things are.
Maintaining a future focus and being more productive are just two skills the best leaders strive to develop. If you are looking for a more complete way to build your skills and confidence as a leader and would like some unexpected ways to help you do that, join me for our From Manager to Remarkable Leader learning experience. This two-day session is packed with insights and opportunities to learn from your peers too. Learn more, find dates, and get registered here.
If you are looking for a low-risk way to try this workshop for your organization, check this out to see if you qualify.