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Five Ways to Level Up for the Future

Blog | Life and Leadership   |   April 6, 2016

by Karen Chan

In our fast-paced and very often unpredictable world, it is not uncommon to dismiss deep thinking, or even planning, about the far future. We tend to dwell on short term needs like our to-do list, the next meeting/project/proposal we need to go to, the needs of others, responsibilities, obligations that are urgently awaiting us, and more.

That’s why developing a mindset for the future needs to be intentional. The deliberate embracing and inclusion of the next generation is a hallmark of sustainability and survival, for any established system, be it organization or family. So how does this look like and what can we do to develop such a future-based mindset, regardless of your current situation?

1. Recognize you are not indispensible

This is the cold, hard truth that stifles and ends any hope of sustainability. Recognizing that we are the sum of many parts keeps us in a position of humility—leading us to think inter-dependently and responsibly about the inevitable impact of our actions on others.

2. Build strong No. 2s

Succession planning is critical as we identify and develop the next-in-line. This could take the form of apprenticeship—developing skill sets and mindsets, and also putting together solid processes and systems to guide our No 2s on-the-job. Equipping can take on the form of regular coaching sessions with timely and constructive feedback complemented with a generous dose of constant and sincere encouragement.

3. Be relational

It is hard to level up when we operate from our own cocoon and neglect relationships. This leads to the dreaded “task master” reputation. Connecting with others across levels, departments and ages takes effort and courage to step out of our usual comfort zones, but it becomes well worth it. Take time to have lunch or have coffee with others amidst our busy schedules, be genuinely interested in their pressing issues, listen empathically and remember significant details that matter to them and most of all, seek to understand and care for them. Become a CEO—Chief Encouragement Officer. It will cost you nothing, other than time to text, write or meet someone, but will reap a lifetime harvest of trusted friendship.

4. Watch the backs of your team

Trust is built on credibility, vulnerability and selflessness, when we put the needs of others above ourselves.  Let’s not send out our troops to fight in new territories we ourselves have never ventured before. Let’s allow our team members to be creative and courageous to try new things, yet be there to catch and support them when they fall or fail.

5. Be an exemplary and consistent role model

We can be exemplary role models but to level up is to be consistently exemplary. Not unlike parenting, we are consistently watched and many of life’s best lessons are often caught and not taught. This can be translated into cultivating, practicing and living out good disciplines and habits especially in our responses to adverse and difficult situations.


Questions to ponder on:

1. What can you change about yourself today (habits, thought patterns, etc.) to level up to be future-ready?

2. How can you build, sustain and/or improve your relationships with others today?



Karen is Vice President of ROHEI, and mother of three children, Sarah, Alex, and Janice.

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