Everywhere I go, I hear people telling a similar story: we started out focusing on one goal, but then that got replaced by another, and then we were sidetracked by an unexpected challenge, and then our funding changed, and then…

Chances are you have your own version of this story. More today than ever before, just when we think we know where we are going, something shifts, and we have to change course.

Visioning is considered an important part of leadership, as well as being able to create and implement a plan for realizing that vision. However, I believe that the paradigm is shifting for how to do that. Transformational leadership invites us beyond conventional practices of projecting into the future, making a plan for getting there, and then sticking with the plan. These rapidly changing and unpredictable times invite a different approach.

What if visioning is not just about the future as we currently think of it? What if the future was actually hidden in the present? What if the visioning process actually started with peering deeply into the present moment – into current circumstances and situations – to discover a potential that is trying to emerge, a future that is trying to unfold? We can get so focused on the future and where we are trying to get to that we completely miss something really important that is trying to emerge today.

If there were a treasure map that could lead us to the hidden secrets for a prosperous and healthy life, organization, or even world, it might be a different kind of map than we are used to using. Instead of showing us the lay of the land and the various roads we could take to reach a particular destination, I envision a magical map that shows us the way toward emerging potential. (Think Harry Potter!) It begins as a picture of the present moment and might illustrate all of the players and current conditions. Yet as we use our inner or intuitive vision to peer deeper into the map, we start seeing hidden layers of information and potential. The deeper we peer into the moment, the more an emerging potential starts to come to the surface and become clear.

As that emerging potential comes to the surface, if we listen to it and begin “feeding” it, the map of the present moment begins to transform into a new picture, showing us our next step or next goal that wants to be accomplished. And as we put our energy towards reaching that goal, the map continues to transform showing us each next step along the way. It is a moment-to-moment unfolding that requires being fully present to the process.

The most brilliant leaders understand this concept intuitively, even if they haven’t articulated it as such. They use all of their intuitive senses to plumb deep into the present circumstance and let the circumstance show them the future that wants to unfold. I’ve written a lot about moving beyond a focus on solving problems to a focus on creating new realities – that a problem, in fact, is not something to be solved but rather something to be listened to. The problem is actually trying to show us a new idea or structure or way of being – something that is waiting to be created.

This is a big shift for today’s mass consciousness. What if our problems were actually trying to show us the greatest potential of our future. What if our problems were inviting us to be visionaries?

It takes a lot of courage to live and lead in this way. Yet once you get the hang of it, you will never want to work in any other way. The organic nature of the process puts you in a flow with what wants to happen. The more skilled you become at peering into the moment and letting the potential emerge and show you the way forward, the less energy you waste in trying to “figure things out” or “make things happen.” You just pay attention and follow the energy.

This doesn’t mean that everything will then be easy or that it won’t take effort or work. What it does mean is that your effort is supported by a much bigger wave of energy. The work then becomes more energizing, inspiring, and rewarding, and, therefore, much more sustainable. You can follow through for the long haul.

So how about you? When you pause and peer deeply into this moment in your life or leadership, what potential is waiting to emerge? Keep your focus on that potential and see what kind of new map unfolds.

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