“Life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards.”
~Søren Kierkegaard

I was on a coaching call with a client the other day, and we were discussing a decision they had made a few months ago about which job to take. “It was a hard choice,” they said to me. “I wasn’t sure what was the right move, but I had promised both organizations an answer by that Wednesday.”

“And now?” I asked.

“And now I’m so glad I made the choice I did.”

We’re often forced to make a choice between two tough options or without all the information we would want to have. We often have to take a step forward without knowing if it’s necessarily the right step. Especially as leaders, we often have to move ahead based on a gut feeling or someone’s recommendation or just because.

And we don’t often fully understand the reasons – or the implications – until later.

Which is why effective Thoughtful Leadership requires that we be present and intentional – so that we’re as aware of our situation and our and others’ perceptions, needs, and agendas as possible. We need to be able to take in as much information as we can, to decipher as much as possible, and to make as educated a decision (or guess) as possible.

And we also need to set aside time to look backwards after the fact – so that we can understand what information we had and what we missed, as well as what we got right and what we got wrong. We need to make time for reflection – as individuals, as leadership teams, and as organizations – so that we can discern backwards what we have created moving forward. So that we can learn from our right steps and our missteps…in order to keep moving in the Thoughtful direction we’re aiming for.

So that we can continue to be the leaders – and people – we most want to be.

How have you lived life forwards but understood it backwards?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

If you want someone to hold you responsible for looking backwards, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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