Tag Archives: rowing a boat

Strategic Thinking: Facing Backward To Go Forward

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

 Here’s an idea to leverage your organization’s history and heritage as a selling tool.  Reading time: 3:05.

         The 7-year-old boy eagerly climbed into the rowboat. “Dad, I want to row today. Can I? Can I? ” His dad acquiesced. “Well okay son. Get in the middle seat next to oars while I untie us from the dock.”

To get ahead in a rowboat you have to sit facing backwards.

      The boy sat down. He grabbed the oars. And the dad smiled at his son facing the wrong way in the middle rowing seat:

     “Jimmy, if you want to go forwards, you have to sit backwards. You have to sit with your back to the front of the boat.”

       Young Jimmy grimaced in confusion. His father tried to clarify: “To get ahead you have to face backwards.” Jimmy was even more confused.

       So are a lot of leaders very confused when they take over an organization and look forward  only.  They dismiss Winston Churchill’s observation that “The further backward we look, the further forward we can see.”

     And they miss an opportunity to fortify their vision for the future with hard core lessons from the past–historical lessons that can illuminate. Consider philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s notion that “life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards.”

       In fact, the most effective visionary leaders whom I have known straddle the fence of time –with one eye clearly anticipating the future and one eye clearly remembering the past. They live simultaneously in three time zones: Continue reading