Sand Lines, Numerical Thresholds, And Other Stuff From The Future

We spend a lot of time in the future. Maybe more than we realize. The future is a major part of leadership. Because of that, we would do well to be more aware of how frequently we refer to the time that is ahead of us. I’ll give you two examples from current events.

First, the Obama Administration has announced lately that the government of Syria won’t be allowed to use chemical weapons against its own people. Syria is in a state of civil war or something very close to it. Presidential spokespeople have said that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is tantamount to a “line in the sand” that must not be crossed.

There’s your reference to the future—the line in the sand.

Second, members of the U.S. Federal Reserve stated yesterday that they will maintain existing low levels of short-term interest rates until the unemployment rate falls to 6.5% and inflation goes to 2.5%. When those two things happen—the official pronouncement referred to this pair of figures as thresholds—the Federal Reserve will increase short-term interest rates. But not until the thresholds have been reached.

Again, there’s your reference to the future—numerical thresholds.

Think about these expressions of future. Which one is more entrenched and unlikely to change without causing other problems? Which one is clearer? Which one gives a more understandable picture of the gap between now and then?

Do you realize how many of the words, expressions, and images you use every day point to the future?