Now vs Later

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I had a mentor who once told me, “the thing about you, Liene, is that you see things about three to five years before other people start to.” I rolled my eyes at him. I was frustrated because I was on a leadership board that just flat out didn’t get the urgency of moving on a particular situation and I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see what I did. His words didn’t really make me feel better at the time. We didn’t have three years.

Except that we did. Well, no, we actually didn’t. It is true that we had the time in that we waited the three years to start to even think about taking action. But we ended up missing a key opportunity to set the non-profit community’s tone and pace of solutions to that particular situation, hurt our position as leaders in the field, and ultimately paid the price of too little, too late.

The saying, “everyone wants what everyone wants” is true and the bills that need to be paid today, this month, this year tend to drive strategies that reflect that.

The problem with this is that people often don’t know what they want until you show them. If you’re playing where everyone currently is, they (and you) are being led by someone else. This means your long-term strategies are ultimately being driven by someone other than you.

There is a bit of both/and at work here in that the reality is you do have bills that have to be paid both this year and in twenty years. It’s simply not an either/or scenario. If your strategy only reflects the first though, you will ultimately be the one playing catch up. You will be the one experiencing the painful reality of too little, too late.

If you’re a visionary, you’re both a trendspotter and a trendsetter, and you see things before others do. This means doing things that people don’t necessarily understand now, but might later. It means that, for now, others may get louder applause (or more followers) than you do. It means you’ll spend money on things with no guarantee that they’ll work. It means you're willing to do things differently than everybody now because you want to be the one who is around later.

It’s risky, frustrating and not exactly an ego boost, but it’s worth it.

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