“Are we there yet?” The familiar refrain from long journeys with children…
To know where we really are, though, we have to see our present reality clearly. Without this we simply exist in the shortsightedness of today.
Having cleaned the glass of the smudges left by curious alpacas, I am now sitting at my desk looking out of the window. The view is much clearer now and I can also see my own reflection.
This has echoes of my recent grappling with our present reality and how I can continue to ‘make the road by walking’. It also plays out in the wider challenges I see leaders working with as they understand their ‘now’. And as they look ahead into an uncertain future.
Essentially I wonder whether there are two key questions we need for effective navigation.
- What brought us to this present reality?
- Where are we headed?
How did I get here?
Whether this is an individual or collective question, we often shy away from it. ‘It’s irrelevant’, or a ‘waste of time’ and we really need to be moving forward to tackle the next big issue…
But without a sense of what brought us here today – what has shaped and informed us – we can’t learn what we need for tomorrow.
I need to honestly look at myself, my situation, my work and endeavours. What do I see? What are the choices that I and others made that formed today? What were the consequences?
Framing better questions to paint a clearer picture of what brought us to this present reality is wise investment in our learning and growth. It’s not about blame, or indeed smug satisfaction, but about a strong enough platform to move forward.
Otherwise we could either be tripped up, again, or go round in circles thinking we are going somewhere new.
How did you get here? What do you need to grapple with in order to be free to navigate forward?
Where am I going?
The past doesn’t need to be our future. Indeed as living, breathing human beings it can’t be. If it is, then we are in shadowlands.
Neither is this some vain attempt to paint such a vibrant, clear image of a perfect future that all we have to do is dream or speak ourselves there…
So where am I headed? Do I know which direction to face, to walk forward?
Sometimes ‘today’ is the point where we need to change direction. Or it can be the time we shift from walking to running. Or perhaps exchange our trainers for walking boots, or wellies, because the terrain ahead is different.
Just because the metaphorical equivalent of Google Maps gave an ideal route yesterday, doesn’t mean we don’t need to refresh today. Things change. But our overall compass tells us the direction we should be facing.
Today I sit with a choice. Do I narrow my focus to where I think I can make the greatest difference or do I say yes to work because someone asks (and can pay)?
If I’m not clear what brought me to this present reality and have a compass to navigate forward, then I am likely to go for the easy option. But at what cost?
So, really practical questions:
- Where are you headed?
- What do you need to be clear about to move forward?
- What would help you know?
This present reality
Actually it’s the only space we physically occupy. But we can thrive here if we value its wisdom.