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Do you wear glasses? I do. … It’s often hard to tell who need corrective lenses these days as many people wear contacts. Still others have opted for corrective eye surgery to address the problems with their sight. If you need corrective lenses, you are either near-sighted or far-sighted. I’m near-sighted. I can see things up-close without my glasses or contacts. Things at a distance require some type correction. Without such, objects are blurry.
What often amazes me is how many people demonstrate short-sightedness of a different type. This “seeing failure” is not a physical defect of the eye, rather it is an intellectual and emotional gap. These people, for various reasons, choose to focus on what’s at hand, the near-term, to the exclusion of what’s around the corner, the long-term. These people become so enamored with the short-term, that they lose perspective. These people become so myopic in their thinking, that they lose context.
Some of the following examples are trivial, others are not. You gorge on salty snacks one evening without thinking about its impact on your weight-loss goal. You blow-off studying the night before the exam without thinking about its link to your final grade. You don’t save and invest wisely when you’re young without realizing that you won’t have enough money to retire. You borrow money to buy that new Apple gadget without concern about your credit card balance or debt rating. Obviously, I could go on and on. My guess is that you have some examples of your own that are now running through your brain, either short-sighted examples of your own making or on the part of those around you. Care to share any?
One example comes to mind. While living abroad, some friends were renting a house. When their lease came to an end the owner wanted to raise their rent about $450 a month! That was a quite an increase, especially considering the market. There were other homes available for rent and these homes were available for less than our existing rent payment (much less the extra $450 per month!).
Maybe the owner thought they wouldn’t go through the hassle of moving. Maybe there was some other motive. But in the end, they moved. The owner is still looking for someone to lease the house AND they’ve lost almost $25,000 in rent payment so far. And every month the house sits vacant, they lose the additional rent payment my friends would have paid had they remained tenants. In the last six months, the owner has lost over 4 ½ years worth of rental income because they were short-sighted. They were focused on the extra $450 per month they hoped to get. They were not focused on the $25,000 (and counting) they could lose.
Now, there are many drivers and motives when it comes to real estate. Maybe their accountant told them to lose money on the house for some tax-related reason. Who knows? There are hundreds of possible reasons. My explanation: they were greedy. They were short-sighted.
World-class leaders look at both the near and far. They balance short-term tactics with long-term planning. Short-term results with long-term goals. Today’s enjoyment versus future satisfaction.
Are you short-sighted? How do you keep your focus on both the short-term and the long-term?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.