It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Think about the areas of your life where you demonstrate this behavior:

  • Using Amazon & iTunes one-click checkouts
  • Charging a purchase today on a credit card before you actually have the money
  • Checking your mobile device every time you stop at a red light
  • Picking up coffee or a meal on your way to work rather than actually cooking or brewing at home
  • Checking email before working on consequential projects

Through this constant connection to information and the ease to obtain instant gratification, our brains are being conditioned for short-term thinking.  The sad reality is that this has permeated our business behavior as well.  We seldom think about the implications of today’s decisions on the future.  We often have conversations without thinking through the best approach for a particular conversation.  We deliver presentations just to get them over with so we can move on to the next thing on our to-do list. 

What does long-term, mature, delayed gratification look like in business?  Lasting skills are those that transcend jobs and industries.  Skills like budget management, change initiatives, turn-around expertise, management and relationship building, just to name a few. Think about the skills you possess that you are most proud of, or from which you derive the most satisfaction.  Malcolm Gladwell found that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to become proficient at something.  This flies in the face of instant gratification!

Performance Graphs over Time

High potential individuals excel at breaking this cycle.  They find satisfaction in achieving the big goal and often find ways to create more time for thinking, planning, and strategizing during the day.  Curiously, my experience is if you carve out more time for the big work you also carve out more time for the important things in your personal life.

Challenge:  For the first 30 minutes of your workday focus on “the consequential projects” and avoid all electronics during this window.

Commit to give up the sprint and instead run the marathon.

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