Sometimes we're so focused on achieving a short-term goal, we miss a bigger opportunity (or threat). As Blockbuster, Blackberry and a mosquito in my loft recently discovered, doing so can turn out to be fatal.
Last night a storm was coming so I went up to my office to close the windows. They're the type with hinges at the top and a winder at the bottom that makes them open and close. I had already shut one of the windows when I noticed a huge mosquito had become trapped on the inside, between the glass and the fly-screen. It was buzzing around and bumping against the top of the window frame, still trying to reach the light on the ceiling. It seemed to be oblivious to the fact its circumstances had changed dramatically for the worse.
I don’t like mosquitoes (for obvious reasons) but I felt sorry for this one. So, I re-opened the window as wide as it would go, to let the insect escape outside. However, instead of noticing what I’d done and dropping down to where the window was wide open, the mosquito continued to butt up against the closed hinged section at the top. It still wanted that light. In fact, even when I banged on the fly-screen, the mosquito never dropped low enough to see the opportunity it had been given and instead, went back to butting up against the hinge.
Eventually, I gave up and shut the window again. This morning, the insect was dead.
As I swept it into the bin, I thought about how strange it was, that the mosquito hadn't noticed it’s obvious escape route and had died needlessly as a consequence. Then it occurred to me, perhaps it wasn't that strange after all. In fact, as human beings, don’t we sometimes behave in a similar way?
In business, our careers or personal lives, how often do we become so focused on achieving a goal or a target, but forget to look around to see if there might be a better opportunity? How often do we keep doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting a different outcome? And, how easily do we ignore the warning signs of trouble ahead because they're not what we want to hear?
It was in this moment that my mosquito reminded me of three important life lessons.
Always be open to possibilities, even when you think you have the right answer.
Focus on the destination, not the planned journey.
Never ignore the warning signs
Next time you find yourself focusing heavily on a short-term goal, perhaps take a moment to reflect and ask yourself ‘am I behaving like a mosquito?’ It might just be the best 10 seconds of your life.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kate Christiansen has spent 20 years adapting large organisations to strategic change. She helps CEOs and their organisations develop the clarity, capability and confidence to succeed in a world of relentless change. Kate is author of The Thrive Cycle: Unlock The Adaptive Organisation Within. To discover more, visit www.thethrivecycle.com
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