Seeing far enough to achieve Big enough

#ConsciousApproach, #LifeGoals, #focusonwhatmatters, #MakingBetterDecisions, #Careers

“Rich people plan for three generations. Poor people plan for Saturday night.” — Gloria Steinem

How far ahead and how big you think has inordinate influence on what you end up achieving in life. Great organizations are built by people who have a vision for long years ahead (think Amazon) — the vision need not be about exact product or solution that they are going to develop but the scale at which they are going to operate and the inputs that go into it (like customer service for Amazon). Great investors do not just have great vision for where they will end up but also have ability to visualize the heights that their invested companies will rise to. Their modus operandi typically is to identify a small business that has all the ingredients of becoming a large organization and then back their conviction with substantial allocations of their portfolio. Great organizational leaders think far ahead and constantly march towards this vision. In fact, one of my past bosses (my senior-most boss ever) who is a very senior corporate leader now used to say that he treats his career as a long-term project and he meticulously worked on that project. It then was no surprise that his career growth within the organization is one for the legends.

“If you create a vision for your life, doors will open.” Anonymous

Thinking big is important for achieving extraordinary success. In fact, it is imperative to be able to visualize the intended outcome. The more detailed the visualization is, the better it is.

Being able to visualize the hurdles along the way is half job-job done in terms of overcoming them. Being able to visualize the successes along the way helps in putting them in perspective and not letting them get to your head. For most people, interim successes actually derail them from achieving bigger successes.

The inevitable short-term pain along the way becomes lot more acceptable to bear. It also becomes easier to exercise patience and perseverance that are required in the long path of success.

In my observation, many people change jobs for transitory reasons — a bad boss or an impossible project or just (temporary) boredom or something like that. Many others although do not quit in the face of similar predicaments, they compromise on their zeal and vitality and build an attitude of accepting mediocre growth and goals for themselves. Their aspirations end up being driven not by conviction but by compromise and acceptance.

An ordinary performance rating or a failed project at work can crush your spirit and a series of them can make you compromise your goals and force you to set sights on much smaller peaks.

Not to say that extraordinary career growth is always a worthy goal particularly because most times, this comes at a significant cost in terms of personal health, hobbies and family and social lives. But given than one spends most of their waking hours at work, an insipid attitude towards career could lead to uninspired life itself. I do strongly believe that we feel alive only on the back of overcoming challenges and making progress. This progress need not be about career alone but it could be about anything in life — perhaps personal hobbies, social service, creating wealth etc.

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Helen Keller

I consider myself lucky to be in the company of many runners. Running requires enormous levels of goal orientation, patience and perseverance, ability to deal with pain and boredom, control and regulation of effort etc.

I know a few people who do a lot of social service. They spend a lot of their time and energy in helping the disadvantaged in life. This involves raising funds, sacrificing personal time, being patient in the face of un-encouraging results etc but they plough on.

One common aspect among most successful people from these varied interests is that they develop a long-term vision for themselves and use that vision to calibrate their efforts and focus. Irrespective of their inherent nature, they turn optimistic. They control their impulses and are able to consistently postpone immediate gratification in favour of long-term satisfaction (how else can you explain once-upon-a-time night owls, consistently waking up before 5 AM for their runs or those spend-thrifts turning into great investors taking great pleasure in researching great companies as opposed to riding fancy cars).

“We are limited not by our abilities but by our vision.” Anonymous

In the absence of a strong drive of achieving extraordinary goals, it will be hard to maintain conviction particularly in the face of painful challenges that inevitably come along the way. It becomes hard to not give up or to not compromise. It becomes easy to lose confidence in your own ability and potential.

Lack of bigger context can lead to a lack of predictability and lack of control and it has been proven with scientific rigour (pioneering research by Martin Seligman and Steven Maier) that this, in turn, leads to something called “learned helplessness”. Relevant takeaway from this research is that you inadvertently (and subconsciously) extend this helplessness to all aspects of life. You start to lose motivation and our ability to take initiative. Without a long-term orientation and a clear line of sight of how, what you are doing now will lead to what you want to achieve in the long run, setbacks and failures can easily derail you and you may become prone to feeling helpless.

Long term orientation also helps with responding to situations as opposed to reacting. Reacting is typically knee jerk and ad-hoc and hence is “transactional” in nature. Responding is generally measured and consolidating and hence “compounding” in nature. Visualization helps with compounding of efforts and thereby helps accomplish non-linear and exponential goals.

So, if you constantly find yourself excited on Fridays in anticipation of the upcoming weekend and develop blues by Sunday evening dreading the week ahead, it is time that you develop a long-term vision and a plan to achieve it. This will not just increase the number of “inspired” days in your life but also, as a by-product, help you get lot more accomplished too.

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Thanks for taking time to read this article. In this newsletter, I share my learnings that could help you improve your decisions and make meaningful progress on your goals and desires. I share stuff that I have personally experienced or experimented with. If you find this newsletter worthwhile, please do share it with others — of course, only if you do not mind it.

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