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Great transformative movements in history have always arisen from a grand new vision of what the future should look like. Think of the American Revolution or the development of the internet as striking examples.
Yet, behind every new vision for the future is a reframing of how we remember the past. Our memory of the past is always selective. It highlights certain things that happened, but marginalizes or ignores others.
This very process of selection colors how we think of our past and what it portends for our future. This is as true of organizations as it is of individuals. Great leaders have always motivated people to pursue a new future by offering a new view of the past. And they do this by calling attention to overlooked aspects of the past which can be capitalized on to build a desirable future.
For instance, turnaround leaders in troubled organizations utilize this technique routinely. They inherit a situation in which people feel anxious about the future, discouraged about their prospects, or doubtful of their own capability. The leader confronts this situation by reframing how people view their past. The leader underscores helps people see elements of the past and present on which to build a new sense of promise and hope.
In this episode I offer some striking examples of how this technique works. As leaders, we are all charged with painting an attractive vision for the future. That process often begins by sketching a new view of the past.
Map Referenced in Today's Podcast