The Think Ahead Sacred Covenant
Heartland Foundation recognizes that there are two worlds in which we can choose to live. One is called Behind, the other Ahead.
In Behind, organizations rely on what’s always been done, the tried and true, the voice of experience, the expert’s mind. With yesterday as its benchmark, new problems are approached with the same thinking of the past. And when limits, obstacles, and crises arise, people just try harder. What the world of Behind lacks in foresight, innovation, and creativity, it makes up for in feelings of comfort and unquestioned security.
Heartland Foundation understands that Ahead is a very different place. We have discovered that it can only be approached with a beginner’s mind and a humble attitude because no one is experienced in the future. It is not constrained by past methods, and yet it honors the past, carries forward our values, and examines the lessons learned along the way. We see optimism where failure is nothing more than an admission that we are smarter today than we were yesterday. It requires a willingness to take a big step, because we can’t cross the chasm to the future in two small steps. We believe that things do not change, only we change.
For Heartland Foundation, our choice is clear. We believe that each of us is progress, and each of us is potential and possibility, but only if we Think Ahead. Our interest is in the future because that is where we will spend the rest of our lives. We see healthy, dynamic and vital communities. We will build communities that are valued and valuable to young and old alike. And we will build them in a conscious, committed and compassionate way. We don’t aspire to be the best Foundation in the world, but rather for the world.
People will invest in our work because they believe that the significant problems of the world cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them. They will enthusiastically embrace our experiments because they know that we honor the tremendous gains of the past, learn from our past mistakes, and understand the power of compassion. Our investors also believe we must overcome the skepticism of “never been done before” with the belief that we only see obstacles when we take our eyes off the goal.
To be successful we know that we will have to become the change we most want to see. Think Ahead will be much more than a slogan used to communicate our efforts. It will direct everything the Foundation does, from how we see new possibilities in our communities, to how we nurture new empowerment in our youth and communities. It will be observed in our partners, our projects, and our passions. We will begin with the end in mind while being conscious of what we can learn along the way. We will not be a place of recovery from present-day problems, but one of discovery of future-day possibilities. And, while we reject “that’s the way it is around here,” we support all those who confidently pursue their dreams and actually live the lives they have imagined.
We accept the great responsibility of becoming good ancestors because we know to whom much has been given, much will be expected.
It will be tomorrow before we know it. And, if our efforts are thwarted, and our success is delayed, we will risk more and retreat less, rather than wonder what might have been. Because it will be tomorrow before we know it.
This manifesto, drafted in 2003 and reaffirmed in 2013, was created through the inspiration and action of some great Think Ahead leaders including: Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi, T.S. Eliot, Walt Disney, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William Blake, William Hewlett and David Packard, Jonas Salk, Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Stephen R. Covey, Leland Kaiser, Albert Einstein, Kahlil Gibran, and all the people in our region who believe the future is theirs to create.
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