Presencing the Future

When I teach executives how to move into the fundamental state of leadership, I often suggest that they must come to embrace the future and embody the vision that they seek to realize. Many find this idea hard to understand. In the book, Leading from the Emerging Future, Scharmer and Kaufer write that to bring possibility to reality, leaders must make a shift from a conventional “ego perspective” to a nonconventional “eco perspective.”

“This inner shift, from fighting the old to sensing and presencing an emerging future possibility, is at the core of all deep leadership work today. It’s a shift that requires us to expand our thinking from the head to the heart. It is a shift from an ego system awareness that cares about the well being of oneself to an eco-system awareness that cares about the well being of all, including oneself. When operating with eco- system awareness, we are driven by the concerns and intentions of our emerging or essential self— that is, by a concern that is informed by the well-being of the whole.”

The authors go on to propose that judgments must be suspended and attention refocused. One must let go of the past and embrace the future that is trying to emerge through us. This is what they mean by “presencing” the future. We must become a present manifestation of the future that is trying to unfold. They argue that this is, perhaps, the most important of all leadership capacities.”

In short, I believe that we all tend to live in a comfort centered, externally driven, self-focused and internally closed state. We can choose to live in a purpose centered, internally driven, other focused and externally open state in which we co-create the emerging future with others. As we do, we begin to see the future, we commit to it and we begin to live from it. We become a living symbol of what we are trying to bring about.

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