Heart disease and cancer are the top two causes of death for people living in the United States. Together, these killers account for almost 50% of all lost lives each year. Researchers, physicians, and scientists toil away at these two deadly foes, working diligently to find a cure and reduce their fatal impact.
Yet in business, the two most common killers of both companies and careers are often ignored. These deadly approaches are frequently undetected, untreated, and, in turn, cause unimaginable suffering. The two diseases that afflict far too many organizations are actually inverse of each other. Both afflictions are based on human vision, and it should be no surprise that a lack of proper vision can be deadly in our professional lives.
KILLER #1: Myopia (nearsightedness). For people who suffer this ocular deficit, they are only able to clearly see things in close range. The business manifestation involves leaders who devote the vast majority of their work to driving near-term results, at the expense of any long-term vision. Seduced by buzzwords such as "execution-focused KPI's," they are lured into narrowly defining success solely based on near-term metrics. While myopic organizations boost current profits by cutting costs, slashing R&D, and over-working the team, this cancerous approach delivers a very bad long-term prognosis. Mortgaging the future by greedily extracting every penny of value today has been the downfall of far too many organizations and careers.
KILLER #2: Hyperopia (farsightedness). If your organization spends every waking moment dreaming about the future but can't deliver current results, you'll need more than bifocals to survive. Startups are the classic offenders, as they dream of a bold future state but fail miserably in getting stuff done. Lacking accountability and making excuses for current misses in the name of a fanciful, euphoric future will yield the same results as betting the company on rainbows and unicorns. A great, long-term vision alone won't carry the day, unless it is balanced with discipline, focus, and a cadence of results.
While concurrently managing both concepts is easier said than done, the best leaders are relentless in striking a balance between near-term results and long-term strategy. One without the other is worse than Batman without Robyn, or cake without ice cream. Grasp only one, and you'll eventually face an existential threat. Embrace the yin-and-yang of both seemingly conflicting mindsets, and you'll ensure not only survival but sustainable success.
Both deadly diseases are avoidable with the antidote, treatment plan, and cure within your grasp. Ensure you're giving plenty of airtime to both near and long-term objectives, and you'll avoid falling victim to these mortal disorders.