As a business leader, you have three options of where to put your focus. The Past. The Future. The Now. Being present in your business now, gives you better leverage to improve from your past with the valuable foresight to manage risks and opportunities in your future.
21st century businesses require real time accessibility and responsiveness to meet the changing tides of immediate customer demands. Innovation is quickly driving businesses forward and leaving many behind. Being disciplined on the point of convergence of past and future, enables you to put 100% of your business efforts into the business now.
It is important to know who you are, where you are coming from and where you are going. The past provides insights that can help your business pivot and shorten learning curves. As a leader, you depend on the knowledge gained through good and bad experiences to improve performance and business outcomes. There is only one path to progress. You have to move from the past to the future through your business now.
Living in your business past, with regret or admiration, does not give you the necessary focus to be centered in the now. “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” ~Alexander Graham Bell
Leaders that spend time relishing in their great accomplishments may be ignoring the unknown threats or countless competitors looking for better, faster ways to knock you off your pedestal. Put the plaque on the wall, file the kudos and at-a-boys and know that your business needs you to be working on what’s next – now.
Likewise, if you are spending your business now redefining vision statements, missions and the company’s next BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), you may be missing the bumps and obstacles that threaten you from achieving important milestones in your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly journey. Your revenues depend on you to zero in on the now.
One way to keep you in the now is to have a mission statement that puts you squarely in the present moment. Starbucks puts its’ employee, partner and customer focus in their business now with their simple mission statement. It says, ”Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
There is no arguing that you need business goals, strategies and plans. The only way to work in the business now is to know where you are headed. Every business needs short and long term goals. There is a big difference in working in the future or working on the future — now. You can be working on inventions that will change the world. If you focus on how the world will be versus your invention, you will lose your edge in getting the invention to market. A daydreamer trap for the creative mind.
Have you ever met an entrepreneur that has hundreds of ideas. When you talk to them, they focus on all the ways they can improve on an idea, open new markets and make millions and billions — in the future. They have 20 solutions for every problem. Yet, there is always one thing that is missing in their enthusiasm for what’s ahead, their business now.
How is your business today? What is holding you back this week? What challenges are stopping you from being that billionaire NOW? When you are steadfast on living in future, you are probably not paying attention to the work required to get you there. If your employees always see you so far ahead of them, they often lack accountability to what they need to do to make the business a success today.
There is a fragile difference between a vision and an illusion. Apple is a perfect example of a company dedicated to the business now. We often look at each new product as ahead of it’s time. Some will remark, how visionary! Apple looks at their new products as another completed project. The next Apple inventions we will be enamored with are already in production. Apple is constantly improving products ahead of their time by working in the business now. They do so with an eye to the future, short term and long term goals; however, they produce and service in the now. Innovation is part of their work culture. We, their consumer, are focused on their future. That does not deter them from meeting our demands now, it only keeps us loyal.
Use your past to better predict your future. It is good business intelligence. Being present for your customers, employees, partners today is what has the greatest impact on revenues now. Investing in your future, is working on your business now! Don’t ignore what’s right in front of you. What you uncover by working on the business now could define you and your company evermore.
“Forever is composed of nows.” ~Emily Dickinson
By Jamie Glass, CMO & President of Artful Thinkers and Managing Director of Sales & Marketing Practice at CKS Advisors.