I received a significant insight just as I was entering midlife. I had gone in to see the eye doctor for a routine vision checkup. He said, “Bob, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is your eyes are in great condition. The bad news is that in a couple of years you’ll need reading glasses.”
That shocked me. Only old people needed reading glasses! The doctor must have seen the shocked look on my face, so he tried to encourage me by saying, “Don’t worry, Bob. It’s just a normal part of the aging process.” Again, not at all what I was hoping to hear.
He went on to explain, “The condition you have is called presbyopia.” I knew what the Greek meant there– elder– and that made me feel even worse. It reminded me that Logan, in Japanese, sounds like the word for “old eyes.”
That’s when I went home to do some theological reflection. After a couple of hours, it hit me that all effective leaders need bifocal vision. We need to see the destination and we need to see up close enough to see what the next steps are. We don’t need to see all the steps in between. If we have only our destination in view as we walk, we can become so focused on the horizon we could fall into a hole. On the other hand, if we only walk with our eyes down on each step we take, we can get completely lost. We need to keep our eyes on both, shifting back and forth periodically. Creating that healthy balance is an important leadership skill.