Pulling the Horizon Closer

One of the challenges of leadership is that from your vantage point you are always looking out to the horizon. We had several coaching conversations with senior leaders this week that reminded us of the need to pull the horizon closer.

Why? Leaders are oriented toward the future or vision they cast for their organizations. If you are always looking at the horizon, no matter how far you travel it never appears to be any nearer to you. Leaders look around and see the problems and challenges that surround them. These are horizon moments, when it’s easy to forget all that has been accomplished.

The leaders we talked with this week were getting swallowed up with the overwhelming challenges they were encountering as they led their organizations through transformational change. If you’re not careful, the constant eye on the horizon can create frustration/disappointment (I am not doing enough) or overwhelm (there’s more to do than I have capacity to accomplish.)

The solution is to pull the horizon closer. Here are 2 ideas:

  1. Begin your meetings by celebrating success. We do this in our weekly team meetings. The top of every agenda has a list where we capture the key accomplishments and successes from the past week. Starting meetings with the positive has several benefits. First, the energy in the meeting will enable better solutions for the challenges that need to be addressed.  Second, it’s a reminder that there are things getting done and you are successful. Remember, “progress over perfection.”
  2. Make a list. This is not a “to-do” list. This is a list of your lessons and achievements. We talked with a CEO who has a quarterly practice of capturing key accomplishments from the previous 90 days. This has served him well in a few ways. First, he has always been equipped to talk with the Board about what he’s done. And now as he’s looking for his next opportunity, he has pages and pages of data he can use as he’s sharing his value with prospective employers. Finally, he has compiled this long list of his accomplishments so no matter what criticism or mistruth is believed about him, he knows what he has done, and it brings his horizon closer.  He knows what he is capable of and has the evidence to prove it.

Balance your focus on the future with an appreciation for the present accomplishments. Bring the horizon closer through celebrating success at the start of meetings and regularly documenting your achievements.

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