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It's not your big dreams that determine your outcome, but your trajectory.

We're told our big dreams are all we need to succeed. If we dream big, we achieve big. If you imagine the end, you'll get there.


But in everything you do, consider the seeds.


Few things are as frustrating as working with someone whose decision-making process is so broken that convenience, laziness, or lack of forward thinking causes them to set bad precedence.


Procrastination, forgetfulness, disorganization, or an inability to simply get their crap together causes people to put off making decisions until the wrong trajectory is in the works and something painful has to happen to get back on track. As the world’s worst procrastinator, I speak from experience.


The seed planted in today’s decision will determine what grows. Every seed has a natural trajectory.


Most of us aren’t thinking that way all the time.


On Easter Sunday, I visited a church in which the pastor spoke of how Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. In a way, he was the seed, buried, then resurrecting and opening the door for a trajectory of eternal life for anyone who would believe. The pastor then proceeded to explain how we bury a lot of different seeds in the ground, so to speak, and that sooner or later, we will have a harvest of what we planted.


The Bible tells us the same thing.1


You reap what you sow, depending on the economy—God’s or the world’s—that you’re functioning in. You’re always planting seeds, whether you’re broadcasting it over the surface for everyone to see, or burying it deep. Something is going to grow someday. There will be fruit of some sort, good or bad.


Sowing and reaping are congruent with the idea of trajectory.


You’re always taking a step in some direction, a kind of seed of movement, creating a trajectory with an endpoint whether you’re thinking that far ahead or not. If we lose sight of the endpoint, we have relationships and organizations that drift.


I have often written about course corrections, and how, from a private pilot standpoint, staying on course requires focusing ahead on a fixed point. There must be an awareness of what winds might push you off course so you can adjust accordingly, not being fooled into assuming that the direction the nose of the airplane is pointed is the precise direction you’re traveling. There must also be an understanding that hard over-corrections to being off course only tend to put you off course equally as bad but in the other direction.


Trajectories are easy to stray from at first because they all start at a point where the wrong trajectory is still very close the the right one. Even traveling for a little while on the wrong trajectory doesn’t seem too off course because you’re still fairly close to the original path. You can see it from where you’re at. The endpoint still kind of looks like it’s ahead.


But if you don’t do something soon, you’ll be far off course.

acute angle geometric drawing

The more time that passes, the further off course you go. If you don’t do a course correction soon, you’re going to either have to do a significant course correction that’s going to hurt and confuse people, or you won’t be able to change course at all.


Of course, all of this assumes you know where you want to go—that you’re forward looking—and that you’ve been able to keep that end goal in mind so you can identify when you’re off course.


I’ve been on so many wrong trajectories it’s hard to keep count. It may be that someday, when I look back, I’ll discover that they weren’t all wrong trajectories. Some might have been the right trajectory to a closed door. But some were just off-kilter for sure.


The world is full of leaders, managers, and bosses who aren’t forward looking and cannot see the big picture. They just see what would make today easiest, or fixate on routines that are familiar. Today’s convenience and paint-point define tomorrow’s trajectory, which is a terrible way to function.


These folks make decisions that lead to precedents that force policies that create red tape that complicate and confuse everyone, all because they were deciding as they were going and forgot to look at where they were going.


It is difficult to get anyone to look up instead of around, particularly in a busy world where we feel like we’re always behind the curve, barely able to keep up much less look ahead.2


But not deciding is still deciding. Not choosing a trajectory is still choosing a trajectory. Each decision and step and habit and routine takes you to some place. And if you’re a leader of some sort, you’re taking your people along, too.


I will confess that it’s not always easy to remember this.


Most days it’s easier to let habit push you through the day. That’s fine if you’ve taken time to create great habits, but I don’t think any of us have created perfectly good habits. We all have some that are pushing us off course.


Think of it this way: living one day at a time only works if you have your eye on the proper goal. Otherwise every tomorrow is a blind spot.


 

1 Galatians 6:7-8, John 4:37, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Psalm 126:5, among others, talk about reaping and sowing. There are some twists to reaping and sowing, with God telling us that sowing in tears and sacrifice will someday, thanks to his supernatural power, cause us to reap joy. But that is not incongruent to the idea I’m making here. A God-centered heart experiencing grief will reap joy someday because they are functioning in God’s economy and sowing accordingly. A wrong-centered or self-centered heart sowing grief will reap according to the world’s economy.


2 I’m reading Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. It’s a good book, though he could have left out chapter three if he was a believer in Christ, and much of the agonizing over how to accept our limits as finite beings would have been reduced if a true believer had written on the topic, but he does acknowledge our busy world and the problem of what to do with it. I would posit that whatever you do to figure this out, if you are a boss or leader, you’d better find something that keeps in mind the trajectory your decisions are putting your people on.

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