Making things happen in today’s hyper-competitive, multi-channel marketplace means going non-stop in the direction you’re going. Building connections. Making things happen. Implementing. Keeping your head down.
This is all good - for the most part.
The challenge when everyone is incredibly focused on making “today” happen is that it becomes increasingly difficult to know if the collective actions of “today” are heading in the direction of a “tomorrow” that is understood and intended. Here’s a quick real life example.
In my first open water swim, I was part of a relay team. When it was my turn, I put everything into the swim. The problem is that I hadn’t learned the technique of bringing your head up every three or five strokes to keep an eye on the buoy up ahead (this actually takes some practice if you swim freestyle) and kept veering off course.
Thankfully, one of the lifeguards tapped me on the back and pointed me in the right direction (and actually went with me for a good portion as I tended to keep veering right). Needless to say, I ended up adding a few hundred extra meters (and time) to a swim that I thought I had pretty much down. And it all seemed so simple at the start.
Brands are the same way.
They get started with the best of intentions and the most capable of talent. But then the day happens. And another one. Slowly it becomes almost impossible to even fathom that time for thinking about the future is even possible when there is just “so much” work to do.
And without anyone to indicate that things are slightly off course in the beginning, an organization could end up miles off course by the time something is actually noticed and even further by the time something is actually done.
The only hope is to mentally catch yourself - all the time. Albert Camus, the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature, once said, “An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.” If we assume that all business and organizational professionals base the bulk of their work on the work of their mind (and are thus a kind of intellectual), then we would all do well to squeeze into our busy schedules time to watch our own minds - to make sure that, to the extent possible, no tomorrow comes as a complete surprise.