One universal truth, no one knows what the future will be. The brother of Jesus sums it up best (James 4:13-15):
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
This does not mean that we should just sit around idly by and let the future pass us by. Great leaders recognize that our days our numbered and that the work they have to do is great. For the future, they commit to a plan, a goal, or a vision.
Clarity to plan
The bible is filled with many verses directing us on how to plan for the future, even if we don’t know it yet. Leadership will do well to plan and execute in the midst of uncertainty.
- Proverbs 16:3 – Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
- Proverbs 6:6-8 – Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
- Isaiah 32:8 – But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands.
Seeking wise council
The future is out in front. It is up to leaders to make great decisions to move people and generations toward it.
- Proverbs 11:14 – Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
- Proverbs 15:22 – Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
- Psalm 90:12 – So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
I don’t know what the future holds for me tomorrow. However, I will listen to our Lord and put in place plans with good council. Finally, I will execute those plans with God in control.
I am convicted as I write about being shallow. There are so many areas of my life, where skimming the surface wading into the issue ankle deep is comfortable. My contributions in work suffer from superficial dedication to solving the problem. I pretend to listen deeply, but treat all the words as white noise on the outer edge, while getting my thoughts ready for the next rebuttal. I use shallowness to play ignorant or feign a lack of expertise about subjects. My roots aren’t firm and my convictions blow away at the slightest turmoil.
I have now been working about 6 hours today. I wish I could say it is for enjoyment, but rather I am trying to fulfill a work commitment. Sometimes it takes extra effort, persevering through frustration, or just time to complete. Fulfillment is that finality of completion, the realization of a achieving a goal, or getting to the end. Leaders take fulfillment very seriously, both for themselves and their subordinates. In order to complete work, here are two key leadership behaviors:
The dictionary shows the following synonyms for amaze:
Astonish, astound, surprise, stun, stupefy, awe.
But beware of the trap. People are often amazed by the superficial, the crowd favorite, the unique, or obscure. We miss out on the truly amazing that many times is mundane, common place, or steady. Great leaders don’t work to amaze, but rather to take on the tough issues. There solutions may seem extraordinary, but they are built on blood, sweat, and tears. Great works are forged through collaboration, and persistence. Here are some leadership examples which amaze me:
As I am studying great leadership, I find that most have learned how to overcome being anxious. Their outward appearance is one of a calm demeanor, they have a steady hand, and command with ease the most difficult situations. Being a former military person, I saw how well officers would make decisions with determination, even though lives may have been at stake.
When you hear the word solitude, what is the picture that pops into your mind? Is it one of calmness, maybe a lake that is perfectly still, or a person cross-legged with their eyes closed and meditating? The word solitude is defined as “a state or situation of being alone.” However, it also infers that you are not lonely in this state.
Meetings. How many of them can be changed, disregarded, and not even attended? Can one spend their time on more valuable work?
Automatically as I was writing this my only focus was on work type meetings, as those seem to be the least edifying and the most wasteful. Meetings can be beneficial:
- Casual meetings to build relationships
- Informational meetings to build up knowledge
- Crisis meetings to solve urgent and hard problems
- Regular meetings that have outcomes that are action oriented
- Impromptu meetings that spark ideas
So not all meetings are monsters that feed on time and energy. Just ones that are poorly run.
Having the right response to others makes collaboration much easier.
- Is it constructive or destructive?
- Is it positive or negative?
- Is it selfish or selfless?
- Is it based upon principle and values over compromise for short term gain?
Each interaction has the ability to be a one of a kind unique and edifying experience. Where there is thoughtfulness before the response, the outcome is usually one where both parties gain and not lose. A quick checklist to run down in your mind before answer could be:
- Am I responding according to principles and values?
- Am I adding to the conversation or other person?
- Is my focus on my fellow collaborator(s) instead of self-ego?
- What are the right words for me to use to deliver positivity?
Being uncomfortable gets my Spidey senses going. It is uncanny how I can see problems with much more clarity. The smallest details become chasms that I need to conquer or cross. Now combine being uncomfortable with new surroundings. It is like when Superman first discovers his superpowers of seeing everything blurring by and he can’t take it all in till he focuses.
This is me now, with a new job and different environment. Here are steps I am taking for better clarity that may help you.
- Slow down. Not everything has to be solved right away.
- Find those who are comfortable already. Listen to what works for them. Be careful not to assimilate and look for opportunities to add value to their processes.
- Know the long term vision. Keep referring to it as you are doing day to day work. Remove the work that doesn’t progress toward the vision.
- Embrace mistakes as valuable lessons.
- Be bold and courageous in your decision making.
Be comfortable with uncomfortable.
Saturday morning weeding has turned into a quick 1 hour endeavor which I share with my wife. There was one area I neglected for about a month though and figured I would tackle it head on. As I was digging and pulling, similarities of software that has been neglected started coming to mind.
- The more time that you let weeds grow, the harder they become to pull out. The tiny thistle for instance, can be quickly grabbed just below the surface and usually the root just comes straight out with it. I often see code that may not be optimal get reused and reused because no one wanted to refactor it. The next thing you know you have a very stubborn area of your code that you will need to clean up
- The sprawling weeds. These are the ones that don’t have a lot of roots but they pop up all over the place as little nuisances. I liken this to inline styles in html, or a set of code that get’s copied over and over again with comments and all just to change a variable. Pretty soon, it becomes a mess when you need to change it all up.
- The worst are those weeds that infiltrate the root system of the good plants. In software, you can see this manifest as design pattern overload or global variables (I hope no one does that anymore).
What are the weeds in your software?