The other day, I was driving down the busy interstate on my way in to the office when I suddenly looked up and noticed a large number of flashing emergency lights about a mile ahead. Immediately, I realized that traffic was not moving, and in a few moments I would be at a standstill. Quickly, I determined where I was on the interstate and made a split decision to exit and take an alternate route around the accident and back on to the interstate. Luckily this plan worked, and I was able to avoid a long delay and a late start to the workday.
When I got to the office, my experience that morning reminded me that leaders must always keep their eyes on the horizon to see what potential obstacles, and opportunities, await them up ahead. Driving the same route to work every day can become so routine that we fail to see what is going on around us, and worse, we fail to pay attention to possible dangers that can occur in a split second. In the same way, great leaders always look ahead with clear eyes and an awareness of what is going on around them in their organization so that they can properly adjust to various situations and respond appropriately. So, how exactly do leaders keep their “eyes on the horizon?” They do so in three key ways:
1) Anticipate – leaders must be ready for potential obstacles and opportunities that lie ahead. By anticipating, they are not caught off guard. Instead, they are prepared and ready for these obstacles or opportunities.
2) Adjust – next, leaders with their eyes on the horizon are able to adjust based on the circumstances. In my illustration, I discussed how I was able to adjust my driving route by scanning the environment to identify an alternative solution. Great leaders are able to effectively adjust their plans to the situation.
3) Act– finally, and most importantly, is to act. Great leaders take decisive action. While it is good to anticipate what is ahead and adjust your plans, both will be in vain if action is not taken. If I had not exited the road quickly, I would have been stuck on the interstate for quite a while. Decisive action was key.
Next time you find yourself driving down the interstate, take time to look ahead and ponder this illustration. Remind yourself that great leaders always keep their eyes on the horizon so that they can make prudent decisions for their organizations, their families, and themselves. By constantly having this vantage point, great leaders are rarely caught off guard because they are prepared and ready to make decisions with a vision toward the future.
Are their areas in your life where you have “taken your eyes off the horizon?” If so, the good news is that you can adjust your focus and recalibrate your vision before it is too late.