I am borrowing Ronald Reagan’s lines to remind ourselves that, as leaders in an organization, we must visualize a future. He did. And we must do so with two caveats:
- We must be invitational. We may visualize a future that is in our heads, a glorious and perhaps even enlightened one. But don’t forget to invite. It is the ‘come with me’ that is often missing. Invitational language is often forgotten in leadership. The factual display of bullet points assumes that what needs to be done is obvious, and that the reader/recipient will read it as marching military orders. But it usually fails the invite test. The explicit one. ‘I am going there, come with me, I need you, will you?’ Than those bullet points look suddenly attractive.
- That future must not be closed. Full picture, all done. I have all the answers. If there is no discovery in the journey, no room for the emergent, that future is unlikely to be as rich as it could. Reagan did not say this is exactly what those best days look like, or what exactly you’ll be proud of, or what achievements we are talking about. And it did not give it an ROI, by the way.
Reagan said what it said referring to America (that part of the world that most of us call The United States, not the entire continent, but hey) We could say, must say the same of our organizations, our companies, our plans.
In some parts of the Zen tradition, ‘the beginner’s mind’ is a full, philosophical position, a world view. Hence the expression: ‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.’
‘Perpetual beginner’ may be understood by zen-loving executives, but hard-wired MBA warriors may have a hard time with ‘that stuff’. But all it means is that possibilities always emerge, and that the key is how to work hard on a well crafted journey that allows for that ‘look out’, that new aha!, a new discovery that may even question a bit of the path. Or even the whole.
Only on that ‘best days are yet to come (…) proudest moments yet to be (…)most glorious achievements are just ahead’ mentality, one can navigate a future that is truly rich and full of possibilities.
Invite, always invite.
And send a RSVP!
Invitations assume an answer: Yes, no, of course, maybe, or my god, or whatever. But you’ll know where people are on that journey, because they are part of it. So you can deal with excited fellow travellers, passive bystanders, high cylinder leaders, filibusters, slow walkers, sprinters and pure passengers or voyeurs. As you deal with all of them, always remember, best days yet to come, proudest moments yet to be, and most glorious achievements are just ahead. Then, with that in mind, the filibusters are just a small local difficulty.