Pre-emptive strikes are seen as crucial in winning tactical advantage over an enemy. Hit them when and where they least expect it; weaken their defences and resistance; walk in.
How often do we run our lives (and our businesses) on this model?
In the short-term we gain ground, competitive advantage, victory over our opposition, but do we benefit in the longer-term?
I think the answer is a resounding “No!“
So many of today’s gurus, advertising messages, even cultural opinion focuses on short-term gain; “I want it & I want it now!” It doesn’t matter how we get it, we just get it. We develop an unhealthy disregard for others, often achieving at their expense, trampling over anyone who gets in our way, even sowing lies or rumour to undermine those we see as a threat.
And if we get what we’re after, what then?
The truth is that we’re rarely content; we want more and at this stage the people around us can all too easily become ‘the competition’. It’s a vicious circle; in striving for our goal we lose sight of what we have … and frequently, who we are. We keep running and gaining until it stops (either through choice or imposition of others or circumstances).
And if we reach the top, what then?
We often feel obliged to carry on fighting to keep the poll position. But at some stage we will be overtaken by someone or something else, at which stage we are likely to be left on our own with few if any friends (by this stage, even the die-hards will have fallen away).
So what’s the alternative?
I believe we steer ourselves towards a much healthier position by looking at longer-term strategies and aims; strategies and aims that include others, either as colleagues or partners. A roadmap cannot show every hazard we may encounter on a journey but it does show us how to reach our destination. In the same way, long-term plans cannot predict every challenge we may face, but they do help us to achieve our goals and to achieve those goals intact, with friends.
The problem of using the pre-emptive strike approach for our personal lives and business is that it not only weakens our networks and support, isolating us from the help we need, it also reduces our quality of life and ultimately, our health.
One thing I have learnt is that it is much more enjoyable and much less stressful for myself and others, when I look at the ultimate destination rather than just planning for the next town along the road.
Choosing the best destination and best route? That is a whole subject in itself!