How do you know if you've accomplished something today? What should you measure if you didn't deliver something measurable? In an era of dashboards, metrics, and key performance indicators, should every ounce of your energy be directed at hitting near term deliverables?
In studying the behavior of the most successful people, I've noticed that they spend a good deal of time planting seeds. Sure, they deliver short-range, tangible results, but they also constantly invest in the future.
When you take the time to help someone out with no immediate payback in sight, you are planting a seed. When you write an article, blog, or whitepaper - simply to share insight with others - you are planting seeds. When you volunteer at a local hospital, give back to the community, or pick up that piece of trash that everyone else sees yet ignores, you are planting seeds.
The results often come back to you in non-linear ways, but the return on your investment will absolutely be noteworthy. The college student you help, simply because it is the right thing to do, ends up referring his boss to you years later who, in turn, becomes your largest client. The speech you gave at a community event touches the mayor, who becomes an ally to you as you seek permit approval several months later.
The funny thing about generosity is that it actually ends up driving better results than the selfish person craves. If you go out into the world and greedily chase cash, you'll seldom find it. But if you genuinely seek to make a difference, you'll end up with an even greater bounty.
You can plant seeds by building new relationships. Helping a colleague. Extending support to others without issuing them an invoice in return. Sharing your knowledge. Supporting a friend during difficult times. Doing a favor. Pitching in without being asked.
The seeds you plant may not provide a boost to this month's income statement, but there's simply no question they will propel your future. It's one of those things that grumpy, penny-pinching CFOs will advise against, which is all the more reason to keep on planting.
Sure, it's a good day when you land a client, close a deal, or improve performance by 3.68%. But it's a great day when you've planted fresh seeds. While it can't be measured this month, you will savor the wonder and magic when those seeds bear beautiful fruit.