Positioning and patience

Maybe your positioning isn’t setting you up to be patient.

There is a lot of power in focusing on the long-term. Jeff Bezos says to Wired:

If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. And just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavours that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details. In some cases, things are inevitable. Ebooks had to happen. Infrastructure web services had to happen. You can do these things with conviction if you are long-term-oriented and patient.

That’s why Amazon is willing to make big bets that look like failures at the moment; in a long enough time horizon, they’re steps to success. A good quarter was baked in years ago.

By contrast, consider the people who don’t think beyond the next month. It’s not just a psychological thing, although that might be the case; sometimes, the pressure is just too near-term to alleviate. I remembered many months in years running my studio where I had no idea what was going to happen next month—let alone the next season, next year, etc. What clients would cancel? What deals were close to closing? How many leads would I need to reach out to?

It didn’t feel like time was my friend; time was constantly running out. By contrast, in Clear Thinking, Shane Parrish writes:

“Time is the friend of someone who is properly positioned and the enemy of someone poorly positioned. When you are well positioned, there are many paths to victory. If you are poorly positioned, there may be only one. You can think of this a bit like playing Tetris. When you play well, you have many options for where to put the next piece. When you play poorly, you need just the right piece.”

You’ll know you’re well positioned when you can feel calm without too much effort. It’s not that you’re not paranoid, it’s that you’ve been around the block, done a lot of clear thinking and hard work, have a sense of what will happen, and are confident that you’ll figure it out.

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