Do you want the good news or the bad? Conventional wisdom teaches us to get the bad out of the way first. Let’s confront the broccoli before we enjoy the dessert. It is probably not a bad idea. If we frame our thinking in terms of the most difficult at the outset, we are better equipped to handle tough challenges when fresh and enjoy the upside after the battle.
This approach to life is time-tested to provide superior long-term results, yet much of modern life seems to be predicated on anything but the “long-term.” Companies squeeze reinvestment in favor of executive bonuses. Governments provide generous benefits instantly while knowingly off-laying the responsibility to pay for those programs on future generations. And nonrofits are lauded for meeting today’s needs, not tomorrow’s. Executives and officials are measured on a quarterly (or daily) basis. If we don’t produce right now, there may be no later.
Have we developed a culture of urgency at the expense of one that values planning and investment? We prefer immediate returns and satisfaction while shunning the accounting for it all. Can we build a house without a solid foundation? Can we have a stable forest of only fast-growing trees? Can we put the cart before the horse?
A bias for action is good, and we often eat too much at dinner to fully enjoy dessert. Still, can’t we find a healthy balance?