August 17, 2021

Being Here and There

Josh Gentine

Much of my client work is focused on the future, however the concerns they share with me are frequently predicated on a cloudy perspective of the present. Many tend to vacillate somewhere in the ether – unable to focus on the present, what I’ll call Here, nor on the future what I’ll call There.

Some of the concerns I often hear include:

  • “We are growing so fast I can’t get my arms around everything.”
  • “I know I need to make the transition, but I don’t have time.”
  • “There are too many options. How do I know if I’m making the right choice?

What I have learned from my client work is this: In order to realize your future There, you need to be Here with intention.

Here is hard. The mental titans of history spent decades mastering Here. They are famous because they mastered Here. Here is when you take decisive ownership of your current situation and focus on a single person, task, experience, or objective for the very sake of it, with no ulterior motivation and no distraction.

There is different. There is where you put your longitudinal energy; There is where you dream. There is where you ask, “What do I want, and what is the first step to get there?”

The challenge with getting There is that it requires a strong connection to your Here. Without this connection, you may miss out on all that Here has to offer. If you can stay present and connected to your intuitive Here, you can approach There with courage, flexibility, and faith. With practice, this connection will allow you to explore a range of curiosities, collecting knowledge, skills, and perspectives that will serve you as you get There.

David Epstein wrote 291 pages on this idea. In his book, Range, Epstein presents a case for having a range of skills and experiences. Range, he contends, allows you to connect seemingly disparate concepts to solve complex problems. Steve Jobs made range famous when he enrolled in Robert Palladino’s calligraphy class at Portland’s Reed College, an experience we now know was one of the initial geniuses behind Apple. Range is powerful and why I contend that pursuing your curiosities in earnest, even if just on the side, is a powerful professional growth tool.

Here’s a personal example. Throughout the last 15 years, I’ve been given the feedback that I was doing too many things and that I was too distracted. On paper, I can see how my friends and mentors would think that: For example, I lived in the Galapagos Islands volunteering with farmers. I worked at a hospital in Tanzania. I helped run campaigns for United Way. I started a soda company, chocolate company, debt fund, people analytics shop, and cheese company. I entered the seminary at the age of 33 to be a priest. I left to be an M&A integration manager for Deloitte. I’ve had a lot of range.

I view each of these choices as a significant mile marker on my journey to There. More than that, each past Here represented a critical victory in expanding my knowledge, ability, and perspective. Yes, I’ve pursued different paths, but the truth is I’ve done so with an intense Here that has allowed me to build a platform of skills, frameworks, and experiences that now serve me as I coach executives and help families transfer their business from one generation to the next. That range allows me to advise clients on strategy, raising capital, operating models, organizational designs, managing teams, selling their companies, and dealing with dad, mom, sister, and brother. This range didn’t happen from putting my head down on the straight path, it’s a byproduct of pursuing my curiosities, staying focused while in each phase of my career, and recognizing that my There was an opportunity to build a breadth of knowledge.

So, what is the bottom line on all of this. Focus is important, especially Here. Being Here allows you to tap into the curiosities that make you tick, and those curiosities can define a brilliant There. I bring this up because day-in and day-out I have conversations with clients who ask, “How do I get Here, and where is There?” My challenge to you is this: Be willing to truly be Here, and stay long enough to get There.

Give me a call if I can help, I’ll be here.

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