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Peer Into the Future

It’s the last day of the year… the decade. It’s time to do something that can only be done once in a lifetime: stand on the shoulders of the last 365 days, or the last 3,650 days, and peer into the future. Where was your initiative a year ago? Where was it ten years ago?

For some of us, it was in full swing. For others, it was just beginning. And for stil others, it was only a glimmer in someone’s eye. Do not look only at how much has been accomplished, but how much the world has changed. There are many factors that lead to this moment.

Joanna Macy, in her book World as Lover World as Self, says, "…things do not produce each other or make each other happen, as in linear causality; they help each other happen by providing occasion or locus or context, and in so doing, they in turn are affected. There is a mutuality here, a reciprocal dynamic. "

As you look back ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How did this program come to be?
  2. What factors in the environment made it possible?
  3. What new context emerged that gave birth to my initiative as a solution?

Now, transport your answers to today and ask these questions:

  1. What has changed?
  2. What do these circumstances look like today?
  3. How are they the same and how are they different?

And finally, to squint and look into the foggy mystery of tomorrow, ask:

  1. What appears to be forming?
  2. How can my program best address the emerging needs?
  3. What needs to change to sustain relevance?

In your response to these last three questions, you can look keenly into the mist of what is to come, unformed as it is. Today is a day to take stock and peer into the uncertain future. It is also a day to celebrate the achievements of the past. Tonight the two will meet on the bridge of a new dawn. Happy New Year!


Seth Kahan ( is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, American Society of Association Executives, International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association, Project Management Institute, and NASA. He is the founder of Seth Kahan’s CEO Leaders Forum, a year-long learning experience for CEOs in Washington, DC. His next book, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out, will be published in May 2010 by Jossey-Bass. Visit his other blogs, for content from his upcoming book, and for techniques on how to succeed as a free agent.  Follow Seth on Twitter and learn more about Seth's work at