Breakthrough Thinking Practice 5: Act from the future

Leadership Blog  |  4 minute read

Isabel Elvery

Written by Isabel Elvery

Breakthrough Thinking Practice 5: Act from the future


Much in the same way a labourer cannot construct a building using only a hammer, leaders need a range of different practices in their toolkit in order to achieve breakthrough results.

This can sometimes mean shattering the shackles that tie us to our own human nature and shedding the behaviours that are hindering our journey towards breakthroughs. In this blog series we will unpack 9 leadership mindset and behaviour practices for you to consider adopting if you want to set yourself on hyper-speed course to achieving extraordinary, breakthrough, results.

So far in this blog series we've discussed the four breakthrough practices:



In practice 5 we discuss how "standing in the result" can ensure your people achieve the impossible.


Conventional wisdom says that if someone has a goal, the best course of action is to put a plan in place to help them achieve it. 


But a plan doesn’t factor in unpredictable variables, such as key staff members leaving an organisation or a means of funding falling through. Plans usually feel robust and safe, but how often do our plans go off without a hitch? 


Behind those plans lie a vision. That vision is a possibility for the future but is only an idea or a hope without actions driving it through. For us to bring that desired future into our present, we need more than a strategic plan. We need to stand in the result.


A quick guide to the impossible


When we have a long-term goal, instead of working towards possibly achieving it someday, we need to manifest our future in the present.


We should ask ourselves who we are, and how we behave, imagining ourselves as the person capable of achieving our goal. Then we can start being that leader today in the behaviours we practice and the conversations we have, versus waiting to get there at some point in the future.


Making the declaration to get a man on the moon meant JFK needed to become a different version of himself – a version that networked in unprecedented ways, understood certain sciences, and knew how to budget for a task thought to be impossible. He had to become the version of himself that could get a man on the moon before anybody even set foot in Apollo 11.


This kind of self-leadership requires a mindset shift. We need to stop seeing a plan as the key to fulfilling our goals and start seeing who we’re being as the key to fulfilling our goals.


If you plan to go somewhere by a certain road and that road turns out to be impassable, you’ll never get to your destination. But if you’re committed to arriving by any route and by any means, roadblocks become opportunities to learn, grow and pivot without compromising on your vision.


Making tomorrow happen today


Standing in the result is at the heart of agile leadership – pre-empting markets, seeing where we want to be in the future, and acting as if we’re already capable of being there.


It’s about being future fit in the present. If you’re a start-up, that means behaving like a billion-dollar brand before you are one. While if you’re in the top 100 companies in your industry, it’s about behaving as if you’re at the number one spot.


Conversely, commitments that are based too far into the future, such as “We’ll be net zero by 2040,” risk being intangible. If you stand in the result, you can act like a net zero company today, not twenty years down the line. These future-based commitments are too often saying that you’re planning to be better one day


People have a perception that time is required for change, but if a senior leader makes a bold declaration (e.g. we’re going to be net-zero and profitable by 2023), people in the organisation will scan creatively for opportunities to make that future happen fast – unearthing solutions that the senior leader didn’t know were possible before they started standing in the result.


Empower moves


That said, standing in the result is not only a practice for senior leaders. You can tap into hidden leadership potential by creating a culture of declaration, and you can unleash that potential sooner by creating a culture of standing in the result, one that cascades down to your middle management team.


If you empower your management team to embody the future they want today – whether it’s to be an entrepreneur, to lead a diverse team, to have global influence, to be a consultant, or to raise profitability everywhere they go by 25% – you will see a huge change in the way they contribute to your organisation. 


They might take more initiative or more risks. They may take more ownership of their development or listen to their team in a deeper way. They might be more resilient in challenging months, more innovative in the face of failure, or they may look after their own wellbeing better and have more empathy for others as a result. Exactly how their behaviour changes will vary, but chances are they will prove they have far more potential than you might have realised.


Plans can be derailed by a disruptive world, but commitments can’t. If your people are standing in the result today, everything they’re doing in the present will help lead your organisation to an impossible destination, one way or another.


by Izzy Elvery



Looking to achieve tomorrow’s results today? Get in touch to explore how we can help you ignite your ambitions. Or start listening to our podcast Ambition. Unleashed. today. 





Published 26/05/2022

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