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"The Wisdom of Looking Ahead"
by Tom Goodman
February 2, 2007

In a recent Christianity Today article, Rick Ezell advised leaders to "create their organizational future before it happens."  Ezell is senior pastor of Naperville Baptist Church, Naperville, Ill.  He wrote:

Bill Walsh, the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was thought eccentric because of how extensively he planned his plays in advance of each game.  Most coaches would wait to see how the game unfolded, then respond with plays that seemed appropriate.  Not Bill Walsh. Walsh would pace the sidelines with a big sheet of plays that his team was going to run, no matter what.  He wanted the game to respond to him.

Walsh won a lot of Super Bowls with his "eccentric" proactive approach.  But all he did was to act on the crucial difference between creating and responding.  He was a coach that looked into the future.

Effective leadership not only requires thinking about where the organization needs to go, but also looking at how it will get there.  We look ahead so we won't get behind.  Only by seeing the invisible can we attempt the impossible.

The wisest person of all instructed, "The wise man looks ahead" (Proverbs 14:8 LB).

The critical need of looking ahead is the process of creating your organizational future before it happens.  Like Bill Walsh, it is creating your own actions in advance so that your life will respond to you.  It is attempting to write history in advance.

Ezell explains seven advantages of thinking about where your organization is going, and where it needs to go.

Looking ahead gives direction.  It "helps one determine the few things that are worth doing, and worth doing well."

Looking ahead helps us to create rather than react.  Ezell points out that "creation" and "reaction" are actually anagrams—they have the same letters in them.  "Each step along our journey we are faced with a choice either to create or to react."

Looking ahead saves time.

Looking ahead allows us to build on their strengths.  "Effective leaders determine what the organization can do best and then do it."

Looking ahead reduces crisis.  "The two controlling influences will be either our plans or our pressures.  And contrary to public opinion, no one works well under pressure for long."

Looking ahead gives energy.  "Failing to focus, we dissipate our energy on less important matters, improper agendas, and lost crusades."

Looking ahead is a spiritual experience.  "Looking ahead cannot be done without the power of prayer.  As your eyes engage the plan, allow your heart to engage the Heavenly Father."

Good advice.  For the full article, click here.


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