Chapter 16 - Seeing Tomorrow

November 9, 2011

Chapter 16 - Seeing Tomorrow

OK, you've made it this far so I thought I'd begin to wind this up with a golf metaphor. Maybe that way I can make sure I have your full attention.

"You're standing over your golf ball on the toughest green on the hardest course you have ever played. For thirty feet in front of you, the green runs uphill to a ridge. Beyond that it drops away sharply to the right. The cup lies another eighteen feet down the slope.

The reality of the putt is that it is entirely yours to control - it's your ball, your putter, your nerves that are being put to the test but every decision you make, every tic in your backswing or follow-through, will effectively change the location of the hole and the chance of your ball finding it.

Send the putt too far out to the left as you head up the ridge, and the ball will never swing back far enough to the right to find the hole. Cut the putt too close to right, and you'll end up below the hole.

Stroke the ball too hard, and unless your aim is dead on and the cup forgiving, you'll end up off the green on the far side, maybe in the trap beyond the fringe. Stroke the ball too soft, fail to clear the ridge, and you'll have to make the same miserable putt all over again.

Now take that golf ball and make it yourself or your business. The ball sits where you are today. Forty-eight feet away is the hole where you need to be in ten years, and every decision you make now will change the effective location of the hole when the ball finally arrives there. In between the two, between now and then, lie events you can only begin to predict - cleat marks, product failures, caprices of history - and each event will affect where you are going and what you will find when you arrive.

And there you have the paradox of action: Nothing will turn out exactly as it is supposed to. No path can take you safely with assurance to where you want to be. Where you want to go today is almost certainly not where you will get to when you arrive.

And yet if you fail to act, you will cease to exist in any meaningful professional or business sense. You've got to go for what you can't expect to get.

Wait for the future to happen, and you will have no future. That's a given. Rush out to meet the future, and your action will automatically begin changing the future that you are headed to. That is also a given. Between the two givens, though, lies a world of difference."

- Watts Wacker, The Visionary’s Handbook

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