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The Importance of Long Term Vision

I talk with a lot of individuals every day about property management and entrepreneurship. One thing that really stands out to me as I talk to people is the difference between those who have long term vision and those who are short-sighted and only look at the here and now. Those who are caught up in the here and now talk about their problems and challenges and complain and talk about what they don’t want. Those with long term vision talk about where they are going and what they are going to accomplish based on something they are thinking about and planning.

It reminds me of a statement I read once by Sterling W. Sill.  He said:

“Vision causes some of the greatest differences between people. The person who has vision thinks about and prepares for the future, while the person who lacks vision lives each day as it comes. One of the differences between humans and animals is that animals live only in the present. They walk on all fours with their eyes usually directed to the ground. Their vision is confined to a horizon of a few paces. By contrast, a human being stands upright and our vision may reach the stars and bring back to us all the beauty and harmony of the universe.

“Shortsightedness is usually caused by being more interested than we should be in the present. This quality makes us like children, to whom the quarter today seems more important than the dollar tomorrow.” –The Laws of Success, p. 204.

As you think about the things you do on a daily basis, you must ask: Where do you spent the majority of your time? Are you caught up in the present challenges you face, or are you taking the time to dream and plan your vision of the future? Too few really accomplish their goals because they don’t take the time to think about and work on their long term vision. Don’t be like this. Always be looking for new ways to accomplish what you have set out to accomplish in your life.

Most people hate being asked to figure out where they’re going to be a year from now, five years from now, or ten years from now because the question forces them to think about the unknown and plan their future. If you don’t plan your own future with a long term vision, you’ll walk into one that is at the lowest common denominator of risk and resistance (and it probably won’t be much of a future at all).

A great example of this principle is that of Miami native Devon Rifkin, who founded Hangers.com and was awarded the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Entrepreneur magazine. He worked for his father after dropping out of college (after six months). His father owned a fixture supply store. One day a local shop owner came into Devon’s father’s store and bought $500 worth of hangers. Devon saw a need and did his homework. In 2000, he launched the Great American Hanger Company which in 2008 did more than $10 million in sales. In 2012, International Hanger acquired Hangers.com and now runs The Great American Hanger Company at Hangers.com.

Now, I doubt Devon saw himself as a CEO of a hanger company when he was little, yet once he began, he set goals for himself and his company. He acquired the domain name hangers.com for $10,000. He borrowed $30,000 to buy a container of 100,000 garment hangers. He went out adding contracts one at a time, growing the business to millions of dollars in sales a year before selling and exiting the business. As a result, he is where many others wish they could be, yet are not, simply because he was willing to do what needed to be done to live into the vision he had for himself in this company. Devon said in an interview with Entrepreneur: “I started with nothing. So to go out there and really let it rip and to grow this great thing without being hesitant and having that confidence—I think that sets us apart.”

Don’t be one who lets life and your business happen to you. Be one who has long term vision and thinks about how present actions affect what happens in the future. I talked with an entrepreneur recently who admitted that he had gone back to something he used to do (that he knew wouldn’t work for him long-term) simply because he was lazy and wanted to go the easy route.  He recognized his mistake and got back on track to do the fundamentals that would allow him to get where he wanted to be in the future.

A fascinating book I’ve been reading is entitled 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done.  In the book, author Peter Bregman who is a columnist for Harvard Business Review writes bite size pieces of advice of how to pause, find your focus, get the right things done.

The first part of the book teaches a valuable lesson: that it is a good idea to pause or stop before you speed up. Bregman says:

“There’s no rule that we need to respond to something right away. So pause. Take a few breaths….Regular rest stops are useful interruptions. They will refuel your body and mind, naturally reorient your life toward what’s important to you, and create the time and space to aim your efforts more accurately.” –p. 11, 19.

Bregman likens these important pauses to taking a few minutes to “hover above your world” so you can think and analyze what the most important priority is before you dive back in to do what needs to be done.

The most fascinating part of the book is Bregman’s analysis of what he calls the four behaviors that allow people to focus on what matters when there are nearly limitless possibilities.  He says:

“It’s easy to become paralyzed when so many choices exist. We can’t decide among them so we end up not choosing. But life goes on, and no choice becomes the de facto choice, and suddenly we look back and feel like our talents have been wasted….We need a way to get started now, to move in the right direction, even when we don’t have a plan. So what makes people like Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook), Larry Page, and Sergey Brin (founders of Google) so successful? Some of it is opportunity. Some of it is persistence. And some is sheer luck. But there’s another set of ingredients that encourages opportunity, persistence, and luck. I call them the four elements. The four behaviors around which you should shape your next year:

        • Leverage your strengths.
        • Embrace your weaknesses.
        • Assert your differences.
        • Pursue your passions.

“Zuckerberg, Page, and Brin loved technology and were great with it. None of them operated alone—they partnered with people to complement their weaknesses. And in style as well as substance, they offered unique approaches that differentiated them and their companies from anything else out there.” –p. 45.

This may seem like simplistic advice, but the examples and analogies that he gives under each point make for compelling reading and application.

One of my favorite parts of the book explains:

“Change doesn’t mean doing more of the same: selling harder, working longer hours, being more aggressive. That won’t help. If you’re playing basketball and suddenly you find yourself on a football field, using more force to bounce the basketball on the grass doesn’t make sense. You need to drop the basketball, pick up a football, and run with it. And notice, when you’re running with the football, are you still using basketball skills and muscles and strategies? Are you thinking and acting like a basketball player on a football field? Or have you truly and fully switched games? Have you become a football player?

“If you change your approach, not only can you succeed in this moment, but you have also forever expanded your repertoire of movement. And a wider repertoire of movement makes for a better, more effective, more resilient business, and more capable, happier people.” –pp, 238-239.

Do you have the right tools to help you pause when you are overwhelmed? Do you take the time to pause and think about the priorities that will help you get where you want the fastest? Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are busy without being busy on your true priorities. Activity is not accomplishment. Be one who hovers above your world and takes time to pause and find the focal points that will help you get the right things done. I highly recommend this book as it reveals many great ideas and tools to help you do just that.

Don’t struggle with short-sightedness. To help you sharpen your focus, get around those who are where you want to be. Learn and implement what must be done to get you on the right track. There is no excuse when there is a perfect prescription for your challenges to help you get back on track and to prevent you from making the mistakes that are holding you back. Have a long term vision. Live towards what you want instead of being sucked into the status quo and being held back by the resistance that will keep you right where you are instead of allowing you to become what you are meant to be.

If you want to be around a group of visionaries in the property management industry who have proven systems and processes to help grow your business, please contact one of our developers who can help you assess what your business can become.


jamesb

James Butler

James Butler is Director of Franchise Development at Property Management, Inc. He has built four companies from the start-up phase to over a million dollars in revenue. He is the author of the best-selling book The System is the Secret and helps entrepreneurs take action in their businesses. He and his wife Heather are the parents of five children.