HINDSIGHT IS 20/20…OR IS IT?
I was recently talking to a coach and mentor of mine and was sharing some of my mistakes and challenges of 2019. During our conversation I was gifted the popular and consoling expression: “HINDSIGHT IS 20/20”. But is it? What does that really mean? What if at the start of 2019 I could have known what I know now?
In effect the expression tells us that as we look back at the past, everything becomes clearer…bad decisions become recognizable….good decisions are confirmed…we are able to tell ourselves the proverbial, “ah, now I get it.” And although that sounds correct, it is often used as a crutch or even a full cop-out.
Mistakes and failing are a natural and necessary part of business. And although I’m a firm believer that we learn and grow from our mistakes, more importantly, I believe that we set our future growth when FORESIGHT IS 20/20.
Get Your Focus Off Your Hind
So why and how did the expression – and thus our focus – get built around hindsight? Because it’s always easier to look at the past and see what has gone wrong in lieu of looking to the future and establishing a clear vision, a clear plan, and a clear path for you and your organization.
Although CLARITY OF VISION is one of the most common expressions written about, spoken about, blogged about, podcasted about and thrown about, actual clarity of vision may be the elusive unicorn of business. Lack of clarity is often at the root of business breakdowns and failures.
Our industry and organizations needs fewer Monday morning quarterbacks in exchange for more clarity and vision into the future. We have been part of an industry for decades that gets stuck in the past, focused on last year’s successes, last year’s achievements and last year’s numbers.
What Role Does Foresight Play?
This industry, our people, our organizations need 20/20 Foresight. In fact, I’d argue that we need 20/10 Foresight.
Back in 1862 we began to use an Eye Chart called the Snellen Chart. Clinically, we measure our “visual acuity” around this chart. Someone with 20/20 vision has normal acuity…meaning they can see each line of the chart while standing 20 feet from the chart. If someone has 20/40 vision, it means that the individual sees only half as good as someone with normal vision, but that also means that 20/20 vision is not the best eyesight possible. If you have 20/15 vision, you can see things from 20 feet away that a person with 20/20 vision can only see when 15 feet away. If you have 20/10 vision, your vision is twice as good as someone with “normal” vision.
Given that, is 20/20 hindsight really even perfect? And perhaps more importantly, is average hindsight enough to run a business on?
The Perfect Temporal Landmark
We are about to turn the page on another decade. For some, it’s your first decade in the industry. For others its your second or even third. We are at that moment where we check our hindsight as well as our foresight. Human beings love temporal landmarks…we love new starts, fresh beginnings, a new place to launch from. In just a few days you will have that perfect temporal landmark: January 1, 2020. It’s a brand new day, a new week, a new month, a new year, even a new decade!
Many will convince themselves that they have a brand new start. They know what they need to do now. This time will be different than last time. They are just gearing up for the first of the year. They are ready to take 2020 on with an energy never before seen. And by January 18th, 2020 everything will begin to look early similar to January 18th, 2019.
The reason we have been missing our big goals and thus living smaller than anticipated lives lies in the fact that we have been settling for 20/20 hindsight. By definition we now know that means we have decided to LOOK BACKWARD and BE AVERAGE.
Finite And Infinite Games
In 1986 James Carse wrote a somewhat sleepy book entitled Finite and Infinite Games. Very few of you ever heard of it or knew about it until it gained a bit more mainstream press when Simon Sinek began to talk publicly about how the book affected his thinking. Carse’s book seemingly became the birthmother to Sinek’s similarly entitled book, The Infinite Game.
Carse establishes the fact that those that play a finite game have “a compulsion to maintain a certain level of performance, because permission to play in these games can be canceled.” It is this compulsion that has driven us to focus our attention on the past to see if we are “winning or losing.” Carse believes that since finite games are played to be won, players make every move in a game in order to win it…that leads to playing for the year…playing to beat last year…or playing to beat your opponent.
And this is why we get stuck in the past…to do whatever we can to ensure a win for the coming year. To correct a few wrong moves. To make a few tweaks to last year’s strategy. To end up a little ahead of last year. To move up in the rankings just a bit.
And in the process of trying to win today, or this month, or this year, we throw away, give up, or lose our infinite game.
Simon Sinek released his new book just two months ago. He outlines 5 steps that I believe will get us to 20/20 foresight…and ultimately help us attain that perfect vision. I’ve shared this book with as many over the past few months, and have done a deep dive with my entire organization into his five keys to playing an Infinite Game.
What are those five keys to perfect vision?
Advancing a Just Cause
Building A Trusting Teams
Studying Your Worthy Rivals
Preparing for Existential Flexibility
Demonstrating the Courage to Lead
For now, I’ll share my thoughts on just two of these.
A Just Cause With A Worthy Rival
We will be able to create a perfect vision as long as our business is Advancing a Just Cause. What makes a cause just? Selling a product is not a just cause. Reaching a sales goal is not a just cause. Being #1 is not a just cause. Netting a million is not a just cause. All of those are quite finite goals and can be achieved in a finite amount a time. Now think about your mission. Can you reach it? If so, perhaps that too is a finite game.
Our company’s mission is To Build Xperiential Lives Through Real Estate. In fact, that is 100% in alignment with my life mission as well. I am convinced that there will always be more to experience in life. I will never wake up one day and exclaim “I’ve experienced it all. I’m good. There is nothing more for me to see on this earth. I’m going to hang it up now.” No, rather there will alway be a new experience to have, a new experience to give, or a new person to share an experience with. Because of that, this cause will drive me every single day to achieve that mission and will drive me to invite more and more people to join me on delivering that Just Cause and taking another step towards that mission. Because every business decision I make is centered around that Just Cause, I will never burn out. I will never feel I’ve reached my potential. I will never feel like I’ve arrived. I will never feel like I’ve grown enough. In fact, based on this Just Cause, if I believed the business was big enough or was growing fast enough, that would be rather selfish. In effect, I’d be saying that enough people in the industry were having experiential lives. That is in fact impossible. This makes it a game that can be played infinitely by an infinite number of people who choose to join in.
Playing an infinite game of advancing A Just Cause brings incredible foresight to every part of your business. It sheds light on:
Why growth is necessary.
Who to grow with.
When to grow.
What to execute on while growing.
Where in your business growth is critical.
The Just Cause will force us to answer every one of these questions. Simon Sinek explains it this way in his book:
“Martin Luther King Jr. gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech…He didn’t give the ‘I have a plan’ speech. There is no doubt he needed a plan. But as the ‘CEO’ of the civil rights movement, Dr. King was not responsible for making the plan. He was responsible for the dream and making sure those responsible for the plans were working to advance the dream.”
Dr. King wasn’t looking at the past. He never said, “Hindsight was 20/20.” Rather he was focused on the future and was intent on building an infinite game for all.
Do you have a Just Cause? If not, you may find yourself stuck building new plans for growth each year…looking at what worked last year and trying to make it slightly better for the new year. This is a sure sign your hindsight is clearer than your foresight.
Simon also shares in his book that finding and Studying Your Worthy Rival is an important step in playing an infinite game. When I read this section of the book, I felt not only validated in my personal journey over the last few years, but it gave me a newfound respect and appreciation for many of my partners.
In his book Sinek says that the strengths of a worthy rival will “reveal to us our weaknesses”. There are many players in the game, and not all are worthy of comparison. If we look across the industry and see constant competitors, then we will become obsessed with just that…competing to win a finite game. We have seen this time and time again…with agents and teams and brokerages pushing to become #1, announcing rankings in city and state and company. And, when we miss the #1 ranking, we find another metric or statistic to grab onto and announce in order to convince ourselves and all of those competitors that we are “winning”.
But the Worthy Rival is one in which we learn from, at times perhaps collaborate with and become better along side of. The worthy rival allows us to isolate our weaknesses, address them, strengthen them and continue playing our infinite game.
In fact, many times in history we have seen Worthy Rivals partner to create incredible industry-shifting and product-changing organisations.
As I thought about each of the incredible business owners that have partnered with Xperience over the past few years, they were each Worthy Rivals in their own right. Identifying them as such, each of our teams saw incredible growth because they exhibited foresight. They became focused on a Just Cause and agreed to study, collaborate, share and learn from their worthy rivals…all of whose strengths reveal to them their own weaknesses. This has allowed each of us to get better continuously in this infinite game of building xperiential lives for everyone within the organization.
I expect to see more and more business owners look to build or find an infinite game that they feel is worth playing in. The first step is ensuring your FORESIGHT IS 20/20. With a crystal clear vision for the future and a commitment to MASTER OPPORTUNITY, we will be playing this game for a long time…well, actually, we’ll be playing this game infinitely.