The Advantages of an Infinite Mindset
There are two mindsets in today’s business world; finite and infinite.
Odds are good you’re operating with the finite mindset (short-term view), as it’s most concerned with what impacts your business today and lets you focus on the question “How do we reach this quarter’s profits?”
This is a legitimate place to be, as most investors focus on today’s results and panic when share prices drop too much. To buy peace, management oftentimes feels obliged to decimate R&D budgets; replace long-term team members with inexperienced staff; view marketing investments as expensive overhead; and otherwise cut corners to the detriment of the overall concern.
Compare this to the infinite mindset, which plays the long game and envisions success that might not come for years…or even decades. A willingness to adopt a patient attitude and invest in a corporate strategy that will probably outlive them ensures leaders embracing an infinite mindset will invariably build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations.
Furthermore, because these leaders have the intestinal fortitude to help develop significant ideas AND see them through to fruition, their employees tend to have greater levels of trust for each other, the leadership, and the organization’s stability. Finally, because the people and the corporate structure are both more stable, those firms with the infinite mindset will still be here long after their competitors have disappeared.
What of those with a “quarterly profits at all costs” approach? They’re guaranteed a future that includes merging, selling to, or going bankrupt because of those with the infinite mindset.
Bottom line: the infinite mindset is guaranteed every time to win the war taking place in the boardroom.
Need an example?
Look no further than your cell phone. The company that manufactured it is concerned with making this quarter’s projections. The organization controlling the elements used to make the components is looking at its prospects 50 years from now.
Simon Sinek talks at length about the infinite minded leader, and suggests these five critical factors for any company looking to take that all-important long view:
1. Just Cause. This means the cause that you are fighting for is SO important that you would willingly sacrifice your personal interest to advance that cause. The problem is most business owners are only there to make money…and not much more. That attitude is contagious, and before long will infect your employees.
2. Trusting Teams. Too often, management looks for someone to blame the moment something goes wrong. This frightens and alienates those we should be trusting, and instills the message “You are easily replaceable.” Only in a work environment where people can honestly admit to making a mistake, being scared, or to having personal troubles, and without any fear of humiliation or retribution, can you be sure your team members are buying into the business’ long-term success as much as you are.
3. Worthy Rivals. Competitors who are good at their craft help us see our own weaknesses. Rather than feeling uncomfortable around them or angry when their names come up in conversation, use their strengths as an opportunity to improve your own operation. Learn why people admire them, what products and services they sell that you don’t, and how you can emulate whatever it is they’re doing right.
Also recognize this is an ongoing process of self-improvement. Just as you’re changing your formula for success, so will your adversaries. If you pick one competitor every month to focus on and improve against, over time you’ll be better than all of them.
4. Existential Flexibility. Flexibility means success, in that you’ll be able to adapt to anything coming your way. But it’s about more than shifting when daily plans change; this means you (and the organization as a whole) need the capability to make dramatic, huge strategic shifts and go in entirely new directions for no other reason than to advance the cause you believe in.
5. Courage to Lead. As a leader, you need the ability to say, “That’s bad for business, and I’m going to do it differently.” What others say about you doesn’t matter, because they’re only playing for this month’s profits. You’re playing to win…and that takes tremendous courage.
Too many businesses (and nations) focus on getting through today and dealing with tomorrow later. They don’t develop a long-term vision; map out a long-term, multi-year philosophy; strategize the tactics, resources, and milestones needed to reach that goal; and actually do the work to achieve their objectives.
Having a long-term business plan helps, of course, provided you don’t just write it and set it aside to collect dust. But it’s too easy to get caught up in headlines, politics, shareholder concerns, and the daily minutiae that distracts us from our own best long-term interests.
But if you’re committed to your long-term vision, and are willing to invest in turning your ideas into reality, you’ll be well-positioned to be the last person standing.
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