Leaders Shaping the Future

WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING . . . Into the Future?

John Gardner quote, the future is shaped, emotionally intelligent leaders, vital optimism

The future is shaped my men and women
with a steady, even zestful confidence
that on balance their efforts will not have been in vain.
John Gardner

I used this thought from John Gardner in a recent lesson on the power of hope and vital optimism.  Leaders are those who have the privilege and responsibility of shaping the future, to a greater degree than others.

When we think of this, usualy it is in terms of vision. It is the visionary leader who shapes the future. I would like to disagree (a bit) with this. It is not that vision is unimportant. To the contrary it is quite necesary. It simply is not sufficient.

I have conversations with many people, some of them leaders, who have visions and dreams of a preferrable future. But they aren't doing much about seeing that future become a reality.

  • Sometimes they have the vision, but not the resources to bring it about.
  • Sometimes they have the vision, but too many frustrations and failures have prevented it from coming to pass.
  • Sometimes they have the vision, but not the will to do the hard work required.
  • Sometimes they have the vision, but not the inner emotional resources to sustain them through the difficulties.

Gardner helps us by giving us the emotional intelligence piece needed for future shaping work. To persevere for the long period of time necessary for most visions, you need an inner resilency and staying power. That comes from having a steady, even zestful confidence that all things weighed and considered - your labors will not be in vain. 

Christians know this quality as HOPE. 

If I were to have a conversation with Gardner, who is an atheist who kindly but firmly dismisses religious ideas as having any legitimacy today, I would ask him - what is the source of his zesty confidence? What are the reasons for such confidence? It would be interesting to hear where he finds hope.

Christians find their hope in the character of our God and the staggering nature of the promises of our God. Just to mention one passage. Read Romans 8:18-39 for one passage that provides hope. 

Today, to lead well, to lead others toward a better future, you will need a steady even zestful confidence that your labors are not in vain. What is your hope that sustains you in this work?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International