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Riding a Bicycle with One Leg

ONeLegBicycleCan you imagine riding a bicycle with one leg? It could work, but it sure would be challenging.

With two legs, you press down with your right foot and bring your left foot around to press down with that one. While one leg is doing the work, the next one is getting ready to go to work.

This is how casting vision works. While implementing current goals, the leader must be working on the next ones. Leading is like riding a bicycle. It requires both pedaling and preparing to pedal.

But, this is a little counter-intuitive. Once we have a vision that is working, the temptation is to leave well enough along. But reality is that today’s formula will probably not work tomorrow. In view of this “bicycle principle,” there are some basic ideas that drive the process:

1. As a leader you will always be working on vision. One of the “key performance areas” of any leader is to articulate and activate the vision. This is a job of leadership. It is a never-ending task. By definition, a leader is a person who is going somewhere and people are following. A leader must know where he is headed and constantly monitor progress. Therefore, a leader should spend time every day either moving the present vision forward or working on the next vision. What commonly occurs is that a leader will clearly articulate a vision for the future but then fail to work on the next on. A set of goals has a life cycle and if there is not a new vision to replace the old one, the church will plateau and possibly die. It is counter-intuitive for a leader to be thinking about a new vision when he is in the middle of implementing the current plan. We have been trained to think that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The bicycle approach, however, is: “if it ain’t broke, it will break… someday.” Your current plans will not work forever. There must be a constant looking toward the horizon.

QUESTION: Are you presently working on the “next one?”

2. There must be a point man. You may have tried riding a bike with someone else. One of you pedals and the other steers. It can work, but ultimately you would never win a race with two on the bike. In the same way, someone must take ownership for creating and guiding the process of identifying the new direction. If the leader does not do this, then no one will do it. Everyone’s job becomes no one’s job. Therefore everyone needs to agree on a point man. One person must be responsible to pedal and steer the bike.

QUESTION: Who is the point man in your church? Does everyone know who it is?

3. Getting ready for the next vision is important but not urgent. We are all too familiar with the “tyranny of the urgent.” As an avalanche of work comes at us our tendency is to focus on the avalanche. But leaders must never sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent. Managing the vision and creating the next one is one of those important things. It is possible to drift for quite some time without addressing the important, but be assured it cannot be neglected indefinitely. The one legged cyclist can get some forward motion, but he would do much better to stop, strap on a prosthesis and pedal with two legs. The time “lost” at gaining another leg will very quickly be recouped. Time spent on creating the next vision will ultimately accelerate forward movement for your church.

QUESTION: Do your church leaders regularly stop to plan for the future? What percentage of your time is spent caring for the urgent versus the important work of planning for the future?

There is one thing even more difficult than cycling with one leg: cycling with no legs. If your church has no vision for the future, it is incredibly difficult to move forward. The vision must be crystal clear and known by everyone in the church.

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