How Proactive Leaders Set Their Signpost

How Proactive Leaders Set Their Signpost
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

What signpost will keep you on the trail this year?

I work with leaders to help them move from being REACTIVE leaders to PROACTIVE leaders.

Proactive leaders TAKE the reins of their thoughts, their focus, their energy, their time.  They decide AHEAD of time where they want these resources (re-horses?) to ride and then spur their lives towards that and stay on their trail. 

This intention makes them more proactive riders in their own leadership story.

Proactive leaders start every season setting a signpost.  

Your signpost is a word or phrase that helps direct you for the year.  It is a truth or idea you want to remember or a value you want to live out.  For many, it is a verse of scripture they want to guide their souls. 

Your signpost is an intentional choice you are making to lead yourself as you enter an unknown season.  When you get in the weeds, when your compass spins, when your calendar crashes, your return to your signpost to reframe and redirect.

Let me show you how it has worked for me.

For the last 2 decades, I’ve gotten with with God to find a signpost for the upcoming year, a word or phrase he’s given me to remember to keep me on track.  I’ve written these on a rock to remind me throughout the year.

In 2010, it was EXPECT…as I was beginning a new role of leadership.

In 2011, it was ADVANCE…as I anticipated great change needed that would require commitment. 

In 2016, it was SUSTAIN…as I was seeking healthier ways to carry the weight of leadership.

In 2020...well, I actually cannot find that rock.  It was that kind of year.

A few years ago, I launched my own company helping leaders navigate what’s next.  And in doing so, I left a great job, steady paycheck, stable income.  Year one was hard.  It was a lot of grinding, knocking on doors, and spending sleepless nights scrolling the help wanted ads. 

I was in a season of transition from the life I had to the life I was building.  And it felt formless.

What helped me was to set my signpost.  I called it “Ramping Up.”

  • My months of low paychecks were not a failure, they were part of Ramping Up.
  • My days spent working two jobs in the day, and pursuing certification at night were not my new normal; I was in a season of Ramping Up.
  • My to-do list for the day had strategic urgency, because I was Ramping Up.
  • The lifestyle choices we made were not permanent; we were Ramping Up.

Setting the signpost was a daily reminder that this was not my forever life, but rather a season of life that I was in.  This season had an end.  I would not be Ramping Up for ever.  

This year my signpost comes from a quotation by my new favorite author, Marcus Aurelius. 

"No, you do not have thousands of years to live. Urgency is on you. While you live, while you can, become good."
Marcus Aurelius Meditations, Book 4, 17.

From this quotation, my Signpost for 2024 is "Urgency is on you."

This signpost reminds me to be sober about my schedule.  To use the stewardship of urgency to move me each day to ask, “what is the best move I can make right now?”

When I get lost, I will seek out this signpost and reset myself towards urgency.

That’s MY signpost for 2024.  What’s YOURS?

Don’t know where to start? Consider these signpost questions:

  • What has been bubbling up in you as you have been considering 2024?
  • Where would you like to direct the reins of your focus, your thoughts, your mind this year?
  • What do you hope is true of you and your life when you look back over this year?
  • Where has God been nudging you towards a change or new direction?
  • How do you want to show up for who and what matters most in your life?

Take some time early this year and set your signpost.  As you do, consider these two tips:

Signposts are meant to be seen.  I choose a rock each year, and put it in a prominent place.  You could also write it on your bathroom mirror, or on a sticky note on your monitor.  How will you make sure you “see” your signpost daily?

Signposts are meant to be shared.  A great exercise for a couple, a family, or a team is to share your signposts with each other.  You can pray for, encourage, remind, get curious about other people’s signposts throughout the year to help them stay on the trail. 

Proactive leaders set signposts.  What is yours for 2024?

I help Point Leaders navigate what’s next.  If I can serve you in this, reach out to me HERE.

Photo by Burkhard Kaufhold on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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