Lost: A Popular Culture Moment

View from an airplane window at the wings and flying over a scenic landscape of green hills and rivers

Okay, I admit it… I do love the television program “Lost”. What a fun, complex, provocative, somewhat exhausting weekly escape. Now in its fifth season, viewers first met the “Losties” when their plane crashed over the South Pacific and they set up camp on the beach of a tropical island. Quickly viewers learned this was not going to be a retelling of “Swiss Family Robinson.” The survivors of the crash are awaiting rescue on an island that is moving in time and while they wait, they are a part of a wild unfolding of a twisted story full of love, greed, leadership, faith, family, survival, and redemption. What I love most about this show is that (usually after some wicked time travel sequence) the prevailing question is not “where are we?” but “when are we?”

When are we?

So when are you? And when are we as a country? When are we as a family? When is our organization? I have worked with boards of directors of non-profits that are solidly not in now; they are stuck in the past, action completely dominated by the long-gone Founder. I have worked with a married couple who are deeply rooted in their now while constantly looking at tomorrow. Coaching individuals is really appealing; there is often a very fluid dance between the past, the present, and the future the person dreams of. The challenge is dancing between time skillfully. In each case, it is about when.

I certainly believe that history is to be honored. I also believe that now is to be lived and the future is to be anticipated. But what’s possible if you are firmly rooted in any one place in time? How do you be in a relationship today if all you can reference is yesterday? What does it look like to do long-range planning if all you can see is the demand of leading your organization today (I often hear “we cannot think about tomorrow; I have a grant to write…an accreditation team visiting…and event to attend…we have no money or staff”). And what about a team or partnership or organization that pays no attention to the accumulated history and simply wings it? There is great value to at least considering the past.

So when are you? When is your relationship or partnership or team or organization? When do you find yourself relying upon the past to inform your present or future? What does it look like to use the past now? When do you move on? What do you notice when you are future-focused and feeling really prepared (or not)? If you are a founder of an organization, what do you notice about your original intent and the demands of now? How do they meld together and how do they conflict? What is your experience traveling through time in your own life?

Have a great day…whenever you are!


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