Horizon-Where Are You Going?

30,000 Foot View: A broad or general look at a problem, project, or subject as opposed to focusing on the details.

In the movie “Seabiscuit”, based on the extraordinary book by Laura Hillenbrand, they take us back to Depression-era America and the earliest days in the life of this amazing horse.  Seabiscuit was abused and wild, but naturally one of the fastest horses in the world when he was rescued by a similarly banged up owner, trainer, and jockey.  

Watching him launch out for the first time under stopwatch, moving aggressively in one direction and then the other, the owner noted how fast he was.  The trainer grinned and replied,

“Yeah, in every direction.”

That is what we find with most companies and leaders we encounter. People are working really hard… in every direction.  When we talk about taking a step back or ascending over the clouds of the day-to-day, climbing to the proverbial 30,000 foot view to get a larger or longer term perspective, we are often met with incredulous responses:

  • Our industry is changing too rapidly.
  • I have no idea what is going to happen in 3 years.
  • I am too lost in the weeds to think beyond the day-to-day.
  • Vision is a worthless exercise.

Let’s be honest, you and your team are already working really hard.

  • But what are you working on?
  • To what end are you working toward?
  • Are you dictating your future or allowing the vagaries of the marketplace and industry to decide it for you?

The most powerful thing about a clear vision is how precisely it illuminates the things you must do today in order to achieve that powerful future.  It inspires and elicits excitement while breeding the elusive employee engagement we are all seeking.

We spent the day with a subset of an incredibly high integrity leadership team in Del Rio, TX.  

  • We wanted to get out of the weeds.  
  • We needed to get our heads above the clouds.  
  • We needed to see even beyond our very clear 3 year vision that we are executing toward.  
  • We needed to see generationally beyond the leadership of the founder/owners.

The team was privileged with an incredible line of sight.  From the hunting lodge where we were working, we could see for miles.  From the high walls of canyons nearby, cut by moving water over thousands of years, it felt like we could almost touch the U.S./Mexican border 30 miles away.  Our host said that the Sierra Madre range, another 50 miles further, could be seen on a very clear day.  It was the perfect site for this type of conversation.

The most humbling thing about this team is that they haven’t just operated with the kind of mature leadership that determines a 3 year destination and works toward that future.  They weren’t just focusing on the generational impact of change related to transitioning owner/founders.  Their line of sight extended clear into eternity.

Their success isn’t just marked in revenue, profitability, or even in number of locations or people employed, their ultimate benchmark is changed lives.  And they’re not just focused on changing the lives of the clients they care for, but also their client’s extended families and all the team members they employ that serve them.  We spoke of generative governance (life-giving leadership) and what needed to change to realize that more fully.  We spoke of nobility, stewardship, and a God-sized understanding of who they desire to become.

They are not a publicly traded company, but if they were, I’d already be placing my bets.  This is going to be an extraordinary story to watch unfold.  I am humbled to be holding a ringside seat.

Where are you going?

Have you identified a clear spot on the horizon you want to reach?

Are you starting to make the changes you need to get there?

Do your team members know the roles they are to play and how they fit into that future?