At the end of July Simon Sinek was on the Glenn Beck program to discuss his new book “Leaders Eat Last”. Beginning at the 17 minute mark of this clip Simon talks about the concept of “Long Term Greed”. Most companies only look at short term results instead of the long term health of the company. CEO’s and Management Teams try to structure their financial statements so that they will look good at the next shareholder meeting or quarterly earnings call. In many cases this short term focus and gain can lead to disastrous results in the long term.
Goldman Sachs was once the ideal model for “Long Term Greed”. They were thought of as being the company with higher ideals and values. Sometimes they would make a decision that was bad in the short term because they knew it would be good in the long run.
One example of focusing on the long term would be reinvesting profits in research and development of a new product instead of passing those profits on to investors. Another example would be an investment company investing in a company that produces modest returns, but that they think will be stable for decades to come, instead of investing in the new, hot tech company with huge returns right now, but won’t be in business in 5 years.
Politicians also focus on the next news cycle or election cycle instead of doing what is best for the country. It is all about the next sound byte or headline and what have you done for me lately. In 2008 if politicians had been looking out for the best interest of America in the long term instead of trying to get re-elected they would have taken a very different approach to the financial collapse and following recession. Instead of bailouts we would have let the companies that made bad loans fail. Instead of a stimulus package and raising tax on the 1% we would have heard politicians talking about how we have to cut spending across every sector and we need to cut taxes to encourage growth. They didn’t say any of those things though because they knew that those solutions would have been painful for everyone in the short term and would have ruined their chances for getting elected.
I invite those who read this to join with me in pondering and discussing if we are focusing on the short term gains or long term greed? When you post to your social media profile are you just trying to get the most likes, +1’s, reshares, or retweets when those posts might be hurting your message in the long term? Before you post do you stop and think “Is this going to help bring people to our side or push them away?” Are we choosing candidates to represent us based on a few sound bytes that we have heard, their looks, or their popularity when we should be focusing on their policies, vision, intelligence and integrity? When we are trying to reach those in the center or on the other side of the aisle are we using superficial slogans like Hope and Change or pretending to care with a one time service project and some staged pictures or are we digging in for the long haul and listening to these people, getting to know them and truly serving them in the way they need regardless of whether there are any cameras around?
In every aspect of life we can find examples of people sacrificing in the short term in order to reap much greater benefits in the long term. Take some time this week to think about your long term goals and if what you are currently doing has that long term goal in mind.