Perhaps the worst advice ever given to leaders is ‘first things first’. That implies we deal with the here and now. That sounds practical but it is not. It is a recipe for firefighting, dealing with crises and being endlessly reactive to all the noise and chaos of day-to-day management. By working this way, leadership becomes a random walk from today to the future. You react to whatever comes along and then see where you land up. If the wind is blowing north, you head north. When it blows west, you head west.
Today’s reality is clearly a constraint and an opportunity: you have to deal with it. But you need to do more than react to events – you have to shape events to your ends.