Earlier this year my family and I saw our first digital 3D movie – G Force. The movie was fun entertainment for a family night, but what captivated me most was the use of the latest technology to show a film in 3 dimensions, giving a richness and depth to the movie.
The thought later occurred to me that leaders, too, have to work in 3 dimensions to have richness and depth. These 3 dimensions are not length, width, and depth, but 3 representations of time: past, present, and future. A wise leader recognizes the importance of all three:
- Past is history
- Present is reality
- Future is opportunity
History – Every past success and failure can be a source of information and wisdom – if you allow it to be. The wise leader learns both from success and failure. Don’t be satisfied with your successes, and don’t be dismayed by your failures. History is important: it is not a rock to hold on to, but a bridge to the future.
Reality – No matter what a leader learns from the past, it will never tell you all you need to know for the present. The wise leader is constantly gathering information from many sources about what’s going on in the here and now – because that’s where we are at. They ask others on their team, they talk with their peers; they look to other leaders for insight. Wise leaders also become students of the culture they are seeking to minister to.
Opportunity – Wise leaders see tomorrow before it arrives. They have a vision for a preferable future, they understand what it will take to get there, they know who they will need to be on the team to be successful, and they recognize obstacles long before they become apparent to others.
The 3D movie I saw required me to wear special glasses; even then the view was only an illusion of depth. Wise leaders will understand the three dimensions of past, present, and future, and realize they are not an illusion, but a powerful force that will help them lead others with real depth and dimension.