Forward Thinking

“Forward Thinking” Should Include the Present

I once shared with my father a personal recollection of embracing the importance of planning and reevaluating plans as a young boy, creating my first five-year plan at the age of nine.  “My mind is full of plans as far as the eye can see,” I told him proudly! And I would continue on with those plans until I reached the age of seventy, at which point I would sit back and take it all in and enjoy life.

As I finished this story, my father looked pensive.  After a moment, he said, “I am sixty-six years old. So according to your plan, I can’t sit back and enjoy everything I’ve done with my life for another four years?” he chuckled.

At that moment I realized that I had been so focused on the next thing that I was missing living in the moment.  One can do too much forward thinking and not enough living in the present.  That conversation was a turning point for me and how I’d do “forward thinking” from here on out.

The importance of this was made even clearer to me when I shared some thoughts around the book I was authoring at the time with my dear friend, Bassam Soueidan. I shared my ideas of the importance of “forward thinking” and he reminded me to spend time discussing the present. He reminded me today is not something we can get back, that we need to enjoy the time we have, and we need to teach our children to do the same. He has since passed away in June 2017 and ever since we spoke, I’ve been reminding myself to try and live each day in the present, be grateful and seek a balance of mind, body, and soul.

Anticipating What’s Next While Appreciating the Now

When it comes to our businesses, we can’t say what the future will look like; we can all agree, however, that it is likely to change.  Over the past one hundred-plus years of our family business history, the longest business cycle activity has lasted a little more than forty years. This is true for any long-running business. Business cycles change.

Instead of bracing for, and reacting to, change, we should accept it as inevitable and approach it proactively.  For our family, in embracing the flexibility, entrepreneurial nature, and global citizenship of our past, we have been able to move from one place to another, from one business to another, conducting our present business as we also plan for the future—a new kind of future that we may have yet to envision.

Forward thinking can encourage us to expect inevitable change in the future while emphasizing the importance of being present in the success of “today.”  Learn more about balancing the present and future success of your family business by reading my book,