The Secret to Creating the Future
Frustrated leaders spend far too much time focused on the past and far too little time creating the future. They’re always saying, “What are we doing wrong?” The past cannot be changed. Stop trying to fix it.
If you don’t have clear vision for the future,
looking back destroys you.
Your past can be:
- A distraction from the present and future. Longing for the past destroys the future.
- An object of reflection that helps you know and understand yourself and others.
- An anchor or platform.
- A teacher that shows you things to repeat and more importantly, things to stop.
Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is create it.” You create the future by building on the past, not fixing it.
How to create your future:
The past is disappointing when things aren’t working in the present. But don’t focus on the past in order to create your future.
Let vision not history create your future.
The first things to ask are, “Where do we want to go and what’s the next step to getting there?” NOT, “What went wrong and how do we fix it.”
The past is useful when you have the future in mind.
When you see frustration or failure ask:
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- What are you doing to get where you want to go?
- What is the next – most useful – thing you can do, right now?
- What should be stopped? (past)
- What should be continued? (past)
Focusing on the past only pulls you into the past,
unless you have the future in mind.
What are you trying to do right always precedes what went wrong.
The past is a platform only for those
looking forward; otherwise, it’s an anchor.
The secret to creating the future is first seeing it then looking back.
What future-creating tips can you add?
What role does the past play as leaders build the future?
Do you honestly want to create the future?
Do you want to put your leadership skills to the best possible use?
Are you committed to changing lives for the better?
Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. Just a small commercial for a profession I have loved. If the politicians can interrupt our lives for a political speech every five minutes or so, you’ll have to forgive me just this once.
Dan, Thanks for your blog that doesn’t just build better leaders, it builds better teachers also.
Thanks for “advertising.” I want to create the future and you are so right, teaching is part of the process! Best wishes for a great week.
Yes! Teaching in the in the office, in the team, in the boardroom, in the home, and in the classroom. Teach the principles and they will manage themselves as they create the future.
Hi Dan – future , past, present…
Is there a future or only the present?
The more you do in the present the better your ‘future-present’.
We all work perfectly – we get exactly what we create (driven from our past) and the only thing that can change is what we do in our present.
The future follows perfectly what we do today.
Hi Richard, Love your focus on focusing on the present. It builds responsibility. I suppose you might say the secret to creating the future is working in the present. Who could disagree with that? Cheers! Dan
Croadie messin’ with the time-space continuum again…. 😉 Thanks for weighing in on ‘tense’, very important and very easily can anchor us before we know it…knew it…. Be here now…Baba Ram Dass
The best way to build a future is to understand the past so that those things are not re-occurring or continuous. A friend of mine labeled one of my cartoons, “Continuous Un-Improvement” because the people in it were destined to continue to repeat the present, and the present quickly becomes the past (yeah, we can get into a metaphysics discussion here!).
But clearly seeing the past / present will offer ideas about what can be done differently. I use my Square Wheels cartoons specifically for that purpose, to define what people and teams are doing presently that is not working smoothly, since the Round Wheels are already IN the wagon and pretty-much ready to use.
The key is implementation, though, generating the ownership involvement, vision of the future, and commitment to implement and change and improve. Most organizations are pretty comfortable — all things considered — is the gradually rising temperature of the water. Frogs legs for dinner, it appears.
But Dan, these are the ‘good old days’ why would I want to leave em!? We’ve always done it this way, why do YOU want to do it different? We had success with this, don’t tinker with success!
Remember and learn from the past, don’t dwell on it or repeat it…apologizes to Santayana. Look at and know the current state while focusing and continuously scanning eye toward future state, no easy task that.
Great post, Dan. Too often, people and organizations spend too much time focusing on the past, too little on the future.
The past is useful for our instruction, but we can’t change it. After-action Reviews as a matter of course, popularized in the armed forces, are excellent means of learning what we did right and wrong, in order to effect continuous improvement.
Driving in the rear-view mirror, and blame-seeking, is very different. It breeds fear, dissent, and inhibits progress by placing a focus on things that we can’t change. It leads to strife, complaining, disengagement.
Looking forward with threats of “if you don’t achieve xxx, I’ll fire you”, or similar unspoken threats is also ineffective.
Learning from the past in view of a better future is much different.
We don’t control much of the future (most of the future depends on our environment, our health, and our resources) but we can influence its direction by acting appropriately. As leaders, our focus must be forward, with just enough looking back to bestow praise for a job well done and adjust behaviors or conditions to improve the future. By looking forward, continually championing a focused vision while being open to adjustments to the vision and inputs as to the means, providing necessary resources and putting up barriers to distractions, we can facilitate success.
Nehemiah did not spend much time looking back at the failure of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to build a wall. Rather, he quit his power ful position at the king’s side, assessed the needs in Jerusalem, encouraged hearts, gave people individual reasons to succeed by asking them to build the wall in front of their own homes, provided building materials, refused to slow down the pace for distractions (enemies who wanted to parlay), etc. As a result, a scrabble of refugees built a huge wall in 53 days. That is forward-looking leadership with results.
I talked to my artist about putting the Square Wheels wagon into the fabric of the Space / Time Continuum.
Thanks for the off-the-wall comments that get my brain discombobulated and out of its old patterns. (Just re-read Hawking’s book on Time again.
If we keep doing the same things the same way, well, you can pretty much predict the result. Me, I like to throw mud at the wire fence and see what sticks; I also expect it to rain on occasion…
The fence is made of wire!? No wonder I kept getting shocked…
Yeah, Doc. It is “chicken wire” and it reflects on another of the issues around why managers do not acknowledge and support their people in the quest to improve performance. It appears that it takes some personal courage to say something realistically positive to people about their accomplishments.
Chicken Wire works just fine to keep things the way they are.
We all know that the courageous managers are the ones that people like to work for and who earn respect.
Another good one, generated from the discussion!
Great post Dan, just what I needed to hear today. You cannot fix the past…, you cannot fix the past..must remember this 🙂
Twelve-step programs have a reading that says pretty much the same thing:
YESTERDAY TODAY AND TOMORROW…
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is Yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow’s sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds – but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.
This leaves only one day – Today – Any one can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities – Yesterday and Tomorrow that we break down.
It is not the experience of Today that drives us mad – it is remorse or bitterness for something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring.
Let us, therefore, live but one day at a time.
i think this was another pretty good one :))
My email signature contains this quote currently: “I’m more interested in the future than in the past, because the future is where I intend to live.” – Albert Einstein
This style & method is what I have chosen for my self & sharing what inspires me. I Just love it! Thanks, it just adds as an endorsement for me personally.