Need and Want over Patience and Aspiration
As a business coach I come across this pattern of thinking all too often. However, I have first-hand experience of this in my life and I think you’ll have encountered the same. What is short term thinking? Do you own, or have you ever owned a store card, maybe credit cards or even an overdraft limit in the bank? These will all entice and encourage short term thinking. It gives us the ability to live outside our means to have stuff right now we can’t afford to have and so we use credit to buy them. This is short term thinking, this is need and want over patience and aspiration. I’m sure you can relate to having had the desire for something that right now you really couldn’t afford.
Not having the commitment or patience to wait as you create wealth to such a point it becomes affordable and merely creating a bad debt is a poor mindset. Interestingly, and as was the case with me many years ago, it’s almost addictive once you have seen how easy it is to use other people’s money for stuff, to create bad debt. I walked into a shop and decided I was going to have the very latest camera, and not only that, all the additional extras to go with it. In less than an hour and having racked up £500, limited to that only because of the cards overall balance. With a couple of signatures, I walked out of the store.
I then walked next door into a very famous high street clothing shop and did the same once again. By the end of the day I had accumulated over £1000 of debt, and I felt great. I hadn’t worked out just how I was going to be able to pay it back whilst having only to forgo few elements of my life. Now had I at the very minimum been able to keep to my plan of repayments it might have been okay. Unfortunately, I didn’t and the next few years were a real lesson in patience and a focus on how I should have made a better, wealthy decision. Sadly, it didn’t end there, and the story goes on to add a holiday to Florida, mid-way through an operational tour in Belize.
What was the main cause?
In the simplest terms the need for self-gratification over a patience. I see this all too often today in my coaching. There is limited focus on the long game, where the outcome results in sustainability and consistency and ultimately the level of incomes where you can enjoy many more of the things you dream of. The reason so many fail to achieve their dreams, feel unlucky and have a view it will never happen to them is down to their need to be gratified right now. A quick shot of gratification and everything will be okay again. Let’s face it today it’s never been so easy for people to do exactly that and sadly keep doing it.
In business, it’s the same. I often come across business owners who are spending their money on stuff which adds no value to the business, offers no return on investment and by virtue merely eats away at the profits. There are those who have their heads stuck in the sand and take drawings, dividends and cash from their business without the slightest idea of its effect, merely because they had a good day. It’s all short term thinking and if unresolved will ultimately result in the demise of a business and quite the opposite of a feeling of gratification.
The other aspect in addition to the hit of gratification is being in a hurry to get there. Let’s be clear, achieving your dream and your long-term vision will take time. That could be 5 years or maybe a decade. Having the patience is a key to success, being comfortable with the long term thinking. Pick up just about any success biography and there is a story which relates to the long game. Of course, when they started to enjoy the fruits of their labour you can see they then experienced accelerated success. As you achieve success your vision will get bigger and you’ll experience swifter results.
The same can be said in Business. As you will all be clear there are some sad statistics regarding the success and failure of business. Sad as it is 20% make it to through the first 12 months, of those 50% make it to 5 and years and only 40% remain at the 10 years anniversary. The fact here and something we can draw from is the successful businesses don’t and haven’t suffered from short term thinking. The point here is to have a clear focus on your future, 10 or 20 years from now.
In business, short term thinking will cloud your judgement. You will be less likely to invest your income and the retained profits back into the long-term growth, rather you are likely to spend it on stuff! You will be less likely to focus on what the lifelong value with your prospects will bring. Rather you will miss opportunities because you are looking for the short-term gratification of offering your business, products or services NOW. There are and will be occasions where you are likely to lose on your first sale, which is okay as long as you have looked at the long-term value you could make from a longer relationship.
The Offensive Mindset
As we can see there are dangers associated with short term thinking and you need to have a clear focus on the long-term outcomes, the vision always keeps the clarity of where you are heading firmly fixed in your mind. The challenge here is training your brain to dismiss the need for short term gratification. Brilliant get the swanky car, the shiny stuff right now, it’s not going to offer you the satisfaction you seek long term. In all likelihood without a long-term game plan, you soon find it becomes unsustainable. Sadly, you significantly increase the risk of your business not making it.
Whilst having detail in the plan the real key here to long term thinking is its execution and the consistency in your actions. Too much focus in the business and none on the business and you’ll lose sight of where you’re heading, failing to see the ‘wood for the trees’. So, in addition to the plan have the goals set out, get a level of accountability in the business, fellow directors, a coach or your accountant. Essentially if you are someone who has a poor personal discipline record then appoint someone to hold you accountable. Remember this is about getting you achieving long term sustainable success in business and in life.
Now there’s a challenging thought!