The larger role of responsibility or the higher position you hold in an organization, the more you must discipline and free yourself for future-tense thinking. Recently I was explaining this concept to a senior pastor. His church has stalled, but it wasn’t surprising to me as I learned more about the church. They are doing things the same way they’ve done them for many years. Nothing has changed. The pastor is busy; some would say too busy, but, in my observation, while he’s working hard, he’s not working smart.
The real problem? This leader is so caught up in putting out current fires, that he doesn’t have time…or hasn’t taken time…to plan for new and better fire extinguishers. He’s not thinking “What’s next?” for the church and because he’s not, neither is anyone else. I took a minute to draw it out like this diagram. The ratios aren’t important, but what is important is that you understand the concept. The more the organization looks to you for leadership, the more you must be thinking future-tense.
Think of it this way. The now that was when you started reading this post is now the then. If you aren’t thinking forward, you’re always thinking behind. Also, some will ask about “past thinking”. It is important to consider where the organization has been, but thinking about the past should be part of reviewing for improvement and growth in the future.
Have you seen an organization stall because the leader stalls?