Looking ahead

There’s something about the endless motion of the ocean that gets one thinking thoughts of eternity — time before us, and what’s to come ahead. If you encounter the ocean everyday, its just, well…the ocean! If you live land-locked (Minnesota) the ocean evokes powerful introspection. For me, it also sparks my aspirations — a burst of hopeful energy about the difference I’m trying to make while I’m still on the planet.

Last week I had the absolute luxury of getting my daily exercise at daybreak along the Gulf Coast beaches of Naples, Florida. My walking companions were two CEOs. With the sun rising and the ocean rolling, it was effortless to share how our personal and professional lives converge. Twice a year, this group of seven top industry leaders gather to counsel, challenge, reinforce and support each other.

Within the backdrop of a brutal economy and difficult service environment, this group was looking ahead — pondering strategies to ensure that future leaders would have the common sense, grounding and perspective gleaned from leading through these difficult times. If you are cynical about powerful leaders who preside over huge budgets and thousands of employees, I believe you may soften a bit with this insight. We didn’t focus on return to shareholders. Instead: “Why do we do what we do? Why is ‘how’ we lead so important? How can we ensure the leaders who come before us can be better than we are?”

Good leaders understand that environment matters, and sometimes that means creating an intimate group of other Good leaders and retreating to the ocean to help us rise above the day to day demands to look ahead with clarity. I am grateful for the opportunity last week — and the help of the ocean — to help the Futures Group look ahead.

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