Navigating from the Past

When we navigate using the constellations and stars in the night sky, we rely on light generated in the past. A few stars might not exist in real-time, their fate unknown to us since it may take hundreds of light years for current illuminations to reach us. So, we proceed confident the past will secure our coordinates.

When we plan, we review. We take what we know now and attempt to rationalize and transpose it onto the blank canvass that is the future. We make broad assumptions and overlay current conditions. If we want a tropical vacation in 2023, we believe that historical weather patterns will hold and we can rely on Hawaii to meet certain atmospheric parameters.

There is no fault in this approach, it has served us faithfully in many examples. Mondays have a familiar routine compared to Saturday and we can account for trends. Except when the past does not equal the future.

Where do we turn in these moments that break the blockchain? We navigate from our values and training. Our values are behaviors that are foundational and we will not sacrifice except under extreme duress and our training is what we practice (intentionally or not) on a regular basis.

Fire departments hold drills to reinforce training and values. Laddering a building is not the most complicated task. However, footing a ladder on uneven snowy ground in thick smoke, while flames roll out of a second story window, and rumors of entrapped occupants circulate; that is when the stars are obscure and we cannot easily consult the plan. We adapt, get creative, deploy our resources to maximize our talents, and rely on our training and values.

Many fire departments share a motto that is paraphrased as follows: we take reasonable risks to save property, we take a lot of risks to save a life. Values matter and they are often most visible when the conditions are extreme.

When we plan, do not forget to confirm the values of the people on the expedition. If everything goes as predicted the plan may succeed as scripted. However, when the conditions change to challenging, our values will override the plan and new options and decisions must be considered.

How might we make time during our planning to confirm our values? It might be the best planning decision we make.

Way-Too-Early Thinking

The NCAA National Championship football game finished last night. This morning several sports outlets had their 2023 National Championship predications posted. All employed the “way-to-early” headline.

It make me wonder. Is it too early? Is this exercise worth anything other than entertainment? I am certain none of these lists is an exhaustive look at all the possible iterations, considerations, alterations, and demarcations of the coming season. So is their value?

If it sparks questions, I think there is value in us embracing way-to-early thinking. If it opens our peripheral vision or creates considerations we had not previously pondered, then value added. If we head to a Las Vegas sports book with this information and double-down on future fortunes, then way-too-early might be a recipe for disaster., especially if we invest too much.

How might we adopt way-too-early thinking in a constructive and enlightening manner, even if we encounter a sense of overwhelm and fatigue? If we believe all our future considerations fit neatly on a 12-month calendar cycle, perhaps we are way-too-late.

Green Flags

Recently, the number of red flag articles I have encountered is trending. Six red flags that your airline seat mate will be annoying. Three red flags that the restaurant is understaffed. Nine red flags that your hotel room is not clean.

It made me wonder why I do not encounter more green flag articles. Why are there so few pieces titles, four green flags that your next adventure will be awesome.

Red flags get attention. Red flags require management decisions. Green flags confirm our hopes (and maybe our expectations). They mean we can divert our attention to other issues.

What are the the green flags attributes of an organization you joined? Why were you excited to lend your talents and how did the cause meet your expectations? Why not invest a little time discussing those characteristics before listing all of the barriers to entry?


How often do we start or finish our conversation (and meetings) with a point of celebration? Even our problems can be high quality challenges that 99% of peer organizations in our sector would be desperate to contemplate solving. Mindset matters and our attention and work follows. Celebrate, even if it is a rainy, cold, headwind. It might make you stronger and certainly provides the foundation for a remarkable story.

Designed and Adopted

When did current design become the adopted expectation? How much resistance must we overcome to achieve the next iteration? How much external force act as a catalyst? Does disruption accelerate new ways of thinking?

If you are an airport or airlines, the ability to make significant changes occurs on a large scale and requires numerous resources. Often, we are still in start-up mode and nimble enough to adjust quickly but we assume the mindset of working on a global scale.

It Can Wait Until the Meeting

What discussion and opportunities have you missed because they were postponed until the next meeting or there was not time on the agenda? What might have happened if the moment of creativity and insight was allowed to take flight in real-time? If all our actions are captured on a schedule, then when does ‘be remarkable’ appear in writing on our calendar? Perhaps we have the inspiration, strength, endurance, or ideal conditions to tackle the crux move today. What if we embraced the dynamic, now?

Thanks for the reminder Seth Godin.


Most Saguaros cactus do not have golf balls embedded in their arms. However, those that reside within a golf course are inclined to collect a few errant shots. I have been in many conversations where a social sector cause wishes to attract a sensational feature or benefit, perhaps a billionaire philanthropist who takes interest in supporting the enterprise with untold generosity. However, if we are not in a billionaire’s mindset, then perhaps we are like a cactus in the wild trying to catch golf balls. Embrace our respective geographies, we are remarkable for existing within the landscape we occupy.