Short term or long term success

Sometimes without thinking we can fall into the trap that the path to long-term “success” (however each of us may define that) is the result of many short-term “successes” happening. Over time successful days turn into successful weeks, then successful months and years.

However this really isn’t the case. Life is not a continuous sequence of ‘ups’ or wins or successes.

Instead, the reality is that success is a path of trial and error, fits and starts, wins and losses. Sometimes in order to “win” in the long-term, we actually have to “lose” in the short-term.

This could be taking a job that pays less than another, but is more in line with your career goals. Or it may mean losing “friends” that aren’t actually good relationships for you so that you can free up time to develop new, healthier relationships with other people. Or it may mean cutting into profits to hire an employee in the hopes the net return is positive later down the road. Or it may mean giving up time on recreation and leisure to put extra hours into studying. Or missing out on some family functions while you launch and grow a new business.

Or it may mean telling your NBA team that losing games now will help us get better players so we are in a better position to win for the next several seasons.

Is this “unethical” or “immoral”? I don’t think so. Of course, the spirit of athletic competition is to compete and try to win. But the NBA is different. It is a business dressed up as athletic competition. The Dallas Mavericks are not having a successful season and whether they win 20% or 80% of their remaining games this season, they will not be competing for a championship.

Obviously the commissioners of professional sports don’t want things like this said out loud because the illusion is that professional athletes compete every night and that fans who shell out lots of money for tickets and cable TV subscriptions are going to get top notch entertainment every time they show up or tune in. But that is not reality. Coaches rest star players, players have personal issues off the court or field that cause distraction, and sometimes athletes just don’t give 100% effort at work (like just about everyone else).

So as a matter of strategy, is losing now to win later a viable option? Of course it is, in fact there is no other way.

Posted in Leadership.