Step Back To See Ahead

“If you’re always chasing the next problem, you don’t see three problems ahead.” – Author Unknown

I love this time of year. Students are stepping up to serve in leadership positions. They’re looking ahead to next year and thinking about all of the ways they can help to make it the best year ever. They have all kinds of fresh ideas. They can see the entire year spread out before them.

Unfortunately, somewhere between the start of school and October, they get caught up in all of the busyness and begin to live from event to event (or problem to problem, as mentioned above). They move from head-in-the-clouds with all of the excitement and anticipation of a new year to head-in-the-sand with the pressure to just get through the next thing. Once you lack perspective, it can result in missed opportunities and chisel away at your attempts to be excellent.

I’ve sat in on many student leadership meetings where a student leader’s frustration could have been alleviated if he or she had just planned ahead a little. Living from event to event means sacrificing one’s effectiveness as a leader. Charles Noble said, “You must have a long-range vision to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures.”

How can we overcome this tendency? I would recommend the following:

  1. Use a calendar that offers you a weekly rather than a daily view.
  2. Once a week, sit down with your calendar and look over the next month.
  3. Once a quarter (every three months), sit down with your calendar and look ahead at the next quarter.
  4. Build reminders into your calendar so you’re not surprised by approaching events.
  5. Plan backwards from big events to get deadlines and checkpoints on your calendar.

If all you see is the next event, then you lose much of your capacity to lead. Leaders must be aware of the BIG picture – what’s out there farther ahead. This will give you a better perspective on what is necessary for today.

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