Drops of dirty road water hurled themselves at the hem of my gym shorts as I rounded the corner. It was a chilly February afternoon, and I was almost halfway through with my jog. It happened to be my long run for the week, the final installment that week for my 13.1 mile training plan.
As I rounded the corner, I started down a longer, straight stretch, a slight downhill section that cut its way between a row of houses, cold rainwater zipping across the road as I splashed my way down.
I looked up, and in the distance I saw the next corner I had to round. It was over a half-mile ahead. For the next minute, that’s all I focused on, and as I did, I felt myself slowing down, physically and mentally, frustrated I wasn’t further down the road. Anxious about how far I still needed to pound. My legs were ready to quit, and my mind was nodding its head in agreement. Until I looked down.
I dropped my eyes for a moment and focused on the wet pavement in front of me, putting one foot in front of the other. Looking at the pavement, then at the next puddle, then at the next mailbox, I pressed onwards until, before I knew it, the corner I’d dreaded was already behind me. The music in my ears echoed on as I focused on the next step.
The focus of a leader
There are times when leaders need to look way ahead, dream big dreams, and help paint a massive, far-off-in-the-distance picture of the bigger-than-what-we-can-even-imagine future that’s coming.
But there are also times when we need to put our heads down, and help others see that next step. Forget “the big picture.” Forget “the dream.” Forget “where we’re headed.” Just help people take that next step. Help them to not lose focus on what’s in front of them, and celebrate small wins. To look too far into the future can be paralyzing, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing.
Even a small step of faith in the right direction is worth celebrating. We’re all in process. Don’t paralyze people by the scope of the road you point them down.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Jesus, Matthew 6:34