Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Between Today and Tomorrow

There are two traps that can act as whirlpools and suck the life out of aspiring leaders.

Both of these pitfalls involve extremes of hope. The first, and more obvious of the two, is hopelessness. It is all too easy for a leader to look at today's circumstances, begin to wonder if things will ever really be any different, and become discouraged. As you might expect, a leader with no hope for the future will find it difficult to inspire others or find the internal motivation to persevere through difficulties.

The second danger, however, is not always so obvious. This second danger is an extreme of hope - ungrounded optimism that ignores reality. When a leader dreams, but ignores the challenges their team faces today, the leader can quickly lose credibility. In the worst case, a leader who dreams without regard to reality can lose faith in their own vision and give up.

Effective leaders are aware of these dangerous extremes of hope. They acknowledge today's very real difficulties. At the same time, they persist in believing that tomorrow can be better and they match that belief with positive action today.

How do you maintain your hope in the future while living in the present?

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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