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See More, See Further, See Faster

“A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.”  – Leroy Eims

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell tells the story of two groups of explorers determined to be the first to reach the South Pole in the early 1900s.  One group was led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.  He was a notorious planner.  He studied, charted, and learned from local experts.  Maxwell describes his “forethought and attention to detail” as “incredible.”  He worked with the right people, used the right tools, and anticipated every contingency.  Amundsen’s planning paid off—the only setback his team experienced was an infected tooth a crew member had to have extracted.

Amundsen’s competitor was a British naval officer by the name of Robert Falcon Scott.  Scott was over-confident, and his planning (or lack thereof) led to failure.  Where Amundsen’s group used dogsleds on the advice of the locals, Scott’s group used motorized sledges and ponies.  The engines on the sledges froze and the ponies had to be put down.  Scott’s team suffered from frostbite and snow blindness because they were provided the wrong boots, clothes, and goggles. 

Despite all the setbacks, Scott’s team actually reached the South Pole, but they were devastated to find the Norwegian flag already there.  Scott’s poor planning caught up with his team on the return trip—not one of them survived.  Their story lives on because Scott spent his last hours recording the events in his journal.

Leadership was the difference between Amundsen and Scott.  Good leaders, Maxwell teaches, “see the whole trip in their minds before they leave the dock.”  They “have vision for their destination, they understand what it will take to get there, they know who they’ll need on the team to be successful, and they recognize the obstacles long before they appear on the horizon.”

The same lessons apply to you as you lead your family, especially in the areas of retirement and estate planning.  Like Scott, many use the wrong tools; they use a will where a trust would be better or they overlook the necessity of a good power of attorney document.  Many are not ready for glaring obstacles, like the possible need for expensive long-term care.  Many take advice from friends, neighbors, or the internet instead of consulting with experts in the field.

When it comes to your family’s security, don’t be overconfident and short-sighted like Scott.  Like Amundsen, work with the right people, use the right tools, and anticipate every contingency.  It’s every bit as important for your family as it was for him.  My firm has been helping the people of Central Arkansas with estate planning and long-term care issues for 20 years, and we still offer an initial consultation at no charge. 

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