It’s quiet up here. Gliding on thermals with no effort- wings out, feeling the lift. There is not much that can be done in this state, other than looking about, making observations from a distance. Details become unimportant or irrelevant in this state.
When you are down on the ground, all you can see is what is right in front of you. While soaring up above, perspectives can change. Observations can be made, distances put into proper view, and decisions made with far more clarity. Observations can be made regarding what is behind and what is to come. It’s easy to see how far we have traveled, and how far we have to go when we climb above the forest canopy. Decisions such as when to turn, or stop, or perhaps speed up are easy to make from this perspective. Clarity is gained by achieving a little elevation up above the noise of the moment.
In the forest, or in the weeds, we are often guessing.
But we know this. This is not new information. However, many visionary leaders are stuck in the weeds and minutia of the moment. They don’t get above the noise, unless it’s an accident. When one is stuck in the weeds, one makes decisions relevant to the moment, with no real view of the impact on the future of the organization. You often go all in on half-baked ideas that need a little more time in the oven, or perhaps need discarded all together.
I’ve seen the person in charge of the business go for years without a single good idea. It’s like they are allergic to them.
“Yes”, said the visionary. “I am allergic to gluten. I swell up like a tick on a dog. Oh, and make sure no new ideas are in my soup. If there are, no one knows where it might take us. I haven’t had a new idea in years. My staff like it that way…”
Often the visionary has lost sight of the fact that it is their job to, at the minimum, foster good ideas in the organization.
Think about that statement for a minute.
The visionary has lost sight of…
This is an oxymoron. It’s his JOB to see things. I would argue that the visionary needs to lead the way in good ideas. Perhaps not the sole source, but definitely at the center of the idea-generating function of the business. In many ways, this is by definition being a visionary.
The problem is this: visionaries rarely set aside time to think and see.
Clarity- seeing things for what they really are- is undervalued by the organizational leader. He can tend to value action. He can tend to value activity and forward motion. If he is moving forward, he is achieving. Busy is good. Inactivity must be bad, right? Often as leaders we are addicted to the drama and trauma of the daily grind. We love action. If we are honest with ourselves, we love putting out fires, being called on in the heat of the moment, and being the one to save the day.
If we are quietly contemplating while others are fighting fires, doesn’t this mean we aren’t team players? Isn’t it true that we are needed on the front lines?
But what is more true is that your good ideas will change the future of the company.
Work ethic can be a two-edged sword in this case. Hard working people often find it embarrassing to sit down for hours just to think and observe. It’s lazy, they say. It’s unproductive, they say. It’s uncomfortable sitting around while others work, they say.
However, paradoxically, we must work hard at taking time to think. There is other work that needs done beside fighting fires. Yes, they need extinguished, but you have people for that. What you need to be doing is thinking about fire prevention, if it’s your organization that is burning. Your job is to come up with the good ideas, and the best way to do that is to apply yourself professionally to creatively thinking and seeing.
Get out of the weeds and start soaring.