Look up, look out, look forward. Indeed, a new world is right in front of us—waiting for us to discover.
It’s like a saying shared with me recently by an executive who had been in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps for 33 years: “These things are irrelevant to fighter pilots: the runway behind them, the altitude above them, and three seconds ago.”
This is our “telling time.” Given what we know now—about ourselves and each other—we no longer contemplate when we will move forward. The only question is how. We have three choices: procrastinate, pause, or push.
The starting point is to accurately perceive the reality of today—an unbiased picture of where we are—personally and organizationally. Anticipation comes next. It’s future-focused, projecting beyond the horizon—Plan C for Plan B for Plan A. Navigation is the companion to anticipation—course correcting in real time. Together, they keep the wind at our back.
If anticipation is the course we chart, and navigation is the ship’s mast—then agility is the rudder. Indeed, these times take world-class agility that stretches our intellectual and strategic abilities to navigate in the moment.
As we anticipate and navigate, we keep making our way. After all, the path of progress is never linear. But that’s how we develop agility—from our experiences, both positive and negative.
Agility ensures learning never ends. Here are some thoughts:
· Connecting time and space. When I spoke with Nathan Blain, an organizational expert in our firm, this week, I asked him about the top concern he’s hearing from clients these days. He didn’t hesitate in his response: “Connectivity.” He shared a conversation he had the other day with a senior leader who expressed concern that, while her teams were productive, continued isolation is creating a culture of verticality—working only for their managers instead of working horizontally as part of cross-functional teams. “This organization had committed so much time and effort to collaboration, they can’t get caught up in silos again,” he told me. Regardless of where or how we work, we need a horizontal mindset—taking the time to connect across our organizational space, even as scattered as it might be right now.
· Survival of the agile. Amid great uncertainty and ambiguity for more than a year—when change has been the only constant—agility was our survival. There was no other option. Although our firm’s research reveals there are many types of agility, learning agility tops them all. All of us have had to become increasingly learning agile—synthesizing and applying our past experiences in real time to fluid, changing conditions. Or, as I like to say—knowing what to do when we don’t know what to do. So, why learning agility and why now? The ability to navigate ever-present ambiguity with agility separates those who are merely effective from those who are truly exceptional. Agility transmutes loss into learning in first-time situations; the new world belongs to the most agile. Learning agile people are insatiably curious and engaged with the world around them. They don’t just rely on the same old solutions and status quo problem-solving tactics that worked in the past. They’re willing to go against the grain of what they know how to do and prefer to do.
· Tempus fugit. Time flies. It’s wisdom as old as time itself, captured by the poet Virgil in 29 B.C.—and it’s as true today as it ever was. If we become stuck in the past, unable to keep pace, we will be left behind. As Ken Blanchard, the management expert and co-author of The One Minute Manager, described in a conversation we had a few years ago, we all must be the “president of the present” and the “president of the future”— both at the same time. If the past 15 months have taught us anything, it’s the importance of adaptability. This is the equivalent of surfing: paddling out and choosing the right wave. While you ride that wave, you decide whether to take it all the way to shore—or bail out and find a better one. We make our path as we walk it, with agility and learning in the moment—while elevating our horizon.
Just like that old watch, nostalgia has its attraction—but all that remains are shadows of what was. In the words of Spanish poet Antonio Machado: “Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again. Wanderer, there is no road—Only wakes upon the sea.” Look up, look out, look forward. Indeed, a new world is right in front of us—waiting for us to discover. That’s how we tell time.
Contributor: Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry and edits by Cliff Locks, Investment Capital Growth, Managing Director, Board Member, and Executive Coach
Cliff Locks is a trusted mentor, confidant, and advisor to CEOs, C-Level Exec, and high-potential employees to help them clarify goals, unlock their potential, and create actionable strategic plans.
Available to join your Board as a Certified Master Professional Board of Director and Advisor.
I am a trusted mentor, confidant, and advisor available by Zoom and by phone to be your right-hand man, who will make a significant contribution and impact on your way to success.
As a Trusted Mentor, Confidant, and Advisor, I support you, along with your company’s strategic and annual operating plan. This plan may include marketing, sales, product development, supply chain, hiring policies, compensation, benefits, performance management, and succession planning.
Most successful leaders enjoy talking to someone about their experiences, which is why most develop a close relationship with a Trusted Confidant—a person with whom they feel free to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of sharing too much or being judged by the people they lead, or their colleagues and superiors. I am a sounding board who will help you to better develop and see your ideas through to fruition.
The most effective Executive find confidants who complement their strengths and sharpen their effectiveness. Bill Gates uses Steve Ballmer in this way; Warren Buffett turns to vice chairman Charlie Munger. In the end, both the Executive and their organizations benefit from these relationships.
As your trusted confidant, I am always by your side, holding your deepest secrets and never judging. Everything discussed is held in complete confidence.
What many executives feel is missing from their busy life is a trusted business person who understands the holistic complexity of both their business and personal life.
I strive to provide solid financial, business, and family expertise and serve as a dispassionate sounding board, a role I like to call “Executive Confidant.”
By holding a safe place for the Executive to work on life path issues as well as direction, I repeatedly see remarkable benefits as personal values become integrated with wealth and family decisions, enhancing a more meaningful life.
As an Executive Confidant, I welcome a confidential conversation about the most important issues facing the business leader, including:
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When I do my job well, I facilitate positive action in both your professional and personal life. This consistently has a positive benefit on impacting people within the sphere of your influence.
The job of an Executive can be lonely. For various reasons, confiding in colleagues, company associates, family members, or friends presents complications. Powerful, successful, and wealthy individuals often isolate themselves as a protective reaction because of their inability to find people they can trust and confide in.
Successful people are often surrounded by many people, yet they insulate and isolate themselves to varying levels of degree. This isolation factor is not often discussed in the same context because the assumption is that success and wealth only solve problems. The false belief is that it does not create more problems, when, in fact, sometimes it creates a unique set of new challenges. Success and wealth do not insulate you from the same pitfalls that the everyday person faces. It may give you access to better solutions perhaps, and that is what I can help you achieve. Financial business success can create unique vulnerabilities, often overlooked as most people feel that the “problems” of the wealthy are not real-life problems.
The Executive Confidant can be particularly helpful when:
• Aligning life priorities with the responsibilities of wealth. • Wanting more meaning and purpose in life. • Desiring a candid and experienced perspective. • The answers often come from within, and we cannot arrive at them easily. • Clarity often comes into focus, with skilled questions and guided discovery. The right questions can be the first step in achieving ideal outcomes.
Who can you turn to when you need to find clarity? Who is your “Executive Confidant”?
Referrals to a team members or family members are always welcome.
One-to-One – Individual payment: Strategic Coaching: $295 per month (weekly for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the depth of our conversation Zoom meeting).
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