Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The years teach much which the days never know.” The immediate is imposing and intoxicating, but time gives perspective and completes the picture and missing details. What you are seeing is not all that is happening, lower your noise levels. What you are feeling is not all that occurring, still your nerves a little.
Whenever you are in the extremes of emotional experiences do not make your biggest decisions or take your biggest bets. The immediate emotions, grief, fears, thrills, pains, ecstasy and other pressures tend to overwhelm and warp perspectives. Things are not always what they seem. Time is your friend and the great revealer. Take time to reflect, that is being grounded. Take time to watch and in time you will see more clearly as you distil knowledge into wisdom.
Do not write yourself off because you feel so back and you think you are hopeless. Give yourself time and you will bounce back and bounce higher. Whatever happens, take time to reflect and then pick yourself up and run. Do not finish yourself off by giving up and throwing away your hope. Time is your friend it gives you the opportunity to write a new story.
Time puts a lot of things in perspective and allows you to connect the dots and understand what seemed to be an enigma. Be patient, remain grounded and focused. Stop reacting and overworking your mind into madness, when you should be focusing. In a speech at Stanford University, in 2005, the late Steve Job told the graduating students: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.” Instead of reacting to the pressures of the present, take a long-term view to things and you will soon see more clearly, and act more strategically. Choose to be long sighted; see further than just today and take a long view. This will help you escape the proverbial tyranny of the moment.
What is happening now is not all that ever happened, or will ever happen. Life is a long winding and grinding train journey. It has its surprising moments, interesting stops and long delays along the way. Keep your eyes focused on the destination and not what is happening in the now.
Things sometimes appear to change and they do change and yet in some ways never change. Change what you can, knowing that some things never change. Human nature and the games that people play seldom change, it is just the stage, the setting, the cast and the costumes that do. History is a fascinating subject that you can never finish studying. When you understand a version of history you get a better perspective on the present and your understanding of human behaviour is enlightened. The more you study history, the more perspectives you see and the better your understanding becomes. When you do not understand history you are easily trapped by history and the pressures of the moment.
Read history to improve your depth of perspective, learn about humanity and develop a better handle on current reality. Your ability to learn and translate that learning into strategic action will give you an edge. Mere recreational complaining is not strategic analysis. Strategic thinking is the ability to see patterns in the storm and follow a path through flooded waters. When lessons of the past are not heeded, the follies of the past are repeated in fashionable ways. Do not just read for exams unless you are content with mediocre ideas. Read not just your own history, but other people’s as well. It is when you look at life through other people’s eyes that your own eyes are opened. History never really says goodbye and locks its books. History will always bid you goodbye and then promises to see you later. Be humble enough to greet history and listen to hear carefully telling her tales.
Marcus Garvey said it well when he said: A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Dig diligently into the roots of history and you will see things more clearly and not be caught in the whirlwind of the current. Those who do not read and are proud that they do not read, regrettably throw away their advantage. As you read history, do not read it with as a resigned cynic or a helpless victim. Read it as an explorer and an imaginative thinker. Realising that every lesson of history counts when distilled into wisdom and diligently applied. Fertilise your imagination with the manure of history. Do not park in the past, seek to spring forward and not be trapped by the chains of the past. Whatever you learn will redound into your advantage.
Read the Present
Read the present with your strategy playbook open and think several moves ahead. Knee-jerk reactions are not necessarily strategic responses. Merely watching and helplessly wondering what is happening is not strategy planning either. Look at the present with wider lenses. Do not make a lot of noise about what you do not know and understand, lest you be forced to swallow your words. Think deeply about the long term future and go beyond limited narrow time spans and emotional reactive tides.
Look at what you are facing with a view to fix and prune elements that do not fit into your strategy and future. Some things worked in the past and will regrettably no longer serve you in the future. If ever you carry anything from the past into the present, carry the best pasts of the past. Any crisis that you face is a message of change. It means that something that may have worked in the past cannot longer fit into your present and future.
Reflect on the things that need to be corrected and restored. Never let the bitterness of the past, bite off your energy and vision. Stop complaining and start working on your magnificent obsession. Leadership is a journey. Continue the path of learning and self-improvement. Times of change are not times to stop learning and unlearning. Keep exploring for best practices and continual cycles of improvement. Do not just be caught up in the current and go with the flow. Do your own thinking, otherwise you will forever be caught in the fever of reacting. Use every moment you get to upgrade your skills, sharpen your character and refine your strategy. Greatness is never a sprint, it is a marathon.
It is not just enough to play, aim to play to win. Clarify what greatness means to you and do not let other people’s pedestrian comments tempt you to doubt yourself or veer off your path. Confront the brutal realities of the present but never forget that this also shall pass but in the end you will prevail. Keep a key eye on the future, have a bold vision and correct your course along the way. Think long term and keep seeing the big picture. Small thinking, and purposeless action will never take you anywhere worth going. The pressures you feel are not the whole journey, keep walking then even if the pace is slow. Close the gap on personal strategic weak spots.
The mountains that you face today will not stand in your way forever. What is difficult today, is not a permanent stumbling block and will not be difficult forever. With a solid strategy you can circumvent any obstacle and jump any wall. Do not just be blinded by the immediate pressures you feel today. Look out, look up and look around. If you choose to believe it, there is abundant opportunity waiting for you to show up. If you choose to think right, you will start to see more clearly.
Go placidly forward then amid the noise, dust, hustle and bustle of the events of life. Remember that there is so much strength that resides in you. You are destined for greatness, whatever happens in the short while to come, determine that you will survive it and continue on your greatness path. You may not have all the answers today, but just carry the questions that matter.
Be encouraged as you reflect on the words of the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, wrote in a 1903 letter to his protégé, the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus. Rilke encouraging his protege to embrace uncertainty wrote: “I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Committed to your greatness.