“Long Time Perspectives”
Sociologist Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University wrote a book titled The Unheavenly City. In this book he described one of the most profound studies on success and priority setting ever conducted. Dr. Banfield’s goal was to find out why and how some people became financially successful during the course of their lifetime and others did not. He had the premise that the answer to the question would be influential contacts or some other measurable factor.
Banfield’s results showed that the major reason for success in life was a particular thinking and valuing habit. Banfield called this habit of mind long time perspective. He said that men and women who were the most successful in life and the most likely to be successful were those who took the future into consideration with every decision they made in the present. He found that the longer the period of time a person took into consideration while planning and acting, the more likely it was that he or she would achieve greatness during his or her career.
What you want to do when setting priorities is 1) decide what you want most out of your life and then 2) organize your time and activities so that everything you do is the most valuable use of your time in achieving your objectives.
That sounds simple enough, but as Dr. Banfield pointed out, perspective is the key. As a human being, you have the unique ability to view the world from different perspectives. Your valuing and thinking habits, however, often get in the way of you using this unique capacity.
You see, your brain likes to save energy so as it recognizes repetitive thinking patterns it moves them from the executive center or conscious brain (which uses a lot of energy) to your habit center or subconscious brain (which uses much less energy.) This is a terrific mechanism but only when your habits are aligned with producing your success.
So today’s questions for you are…
- When you set your priorities are you looking long-term or short-term?
- What mental habit are you currently using?
Choosing Your Focus
In your work and personal life having a clear, long-term objective and plan for accomplishing your short-term tasks is important. These long term objectives help you make your short-term day-by-day, hour-by-hour decisions.
This newsletter isn’t about setting long-term goals. It’s about developing the habit of looking at your time from a long time perspective. You have strengths and challenges when it comes to thinking and making value judgments. We all do. It’s what we measure with our VQ Profile assessment. (VQ=value judgment quotient) When you make decisions from low-VQs or thinking habits that are not your strengths, your perception is limited.
|Your low-VQs are like using a low-power key chain flashlight to look out into the dark. You can’t see very far. When you use this perspective to make your decisions and choices, they are short time decisions because that is all of the data that your mind currently sees. So, from a low-VQ your decisions are short time decisions.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a low-VQ that is around your expectations. You place too much emphasis on getting things done exactly the way you think they should be done. However, you aren’t the one doing the work. You are the leader, manager, coach or parent of another person who is supposed to do the work. Now, when the work isn’t done properly and you are thinking short-term, you may want to scold the worker and let them know that they are not living up to your expectations. You may want to blame their ineptitude or attitude. You may want to take their tasks from them and give them to someone ‘more competent’. Those are all viable options but they may also be short time perspectives. They may not add or create the greatest value in this situation. These decisions may even take away value when you are able to see them from a long time perspective.
Now, let’s say your high-VQ (long time perspective) is around Valuing Others. If you look at the same situation from this balanced perspective, you will be able to see a clearer long-term view. You will see that chastising a poor performer doesn’t usually make them perk up, feel energized and perform better. It may do just the opposite. Rather than reiterating your expectations over and over again, your high-VQ would have you invest the time into the person to learn how they think. You would use stories to get them to think from another point-of-view, see a different perspective and hopefully even a long time perspective that will help them make better day-to-day, hour-by-hour decisions.
Your Top Priority
When we are determining the value of using our time, it is important to focus our attention in a number of areas:
- Short-term impact / gains
- Long-term impact / gains
- Short-term consequences (of doing or not doing it)
- Long-term consequences (of doing or not doing it)
Your low-VQs will tend to want to rush you to judgment and only use 1 or 2 of the 4 areas to make your decision. This would be like using that tiny flashlight to see out into the distance. You won’t be able to see very far, yet your mind may be convinced that you have all the data available to you.
||Use your VQ-100s from your VQ Profile to look at your priorities from all 4 angles. These perspectives will give you a huge searchlight with which you will see a long distance away into your long time perspectives. You will have far more data with which to make your best decisions when you use these perspectives.
Your Time Horizon
Your mindset toward time, your “time horizon,” has an enormous impact on your behavior. Your decisions and your choices on how to spend your time come from your VQs. People who take the long view (balanced perspective; high-VQ) of their lives and careers always seem to make much better decisions about their time and activities than people who give very little thought to the future.
- Take a look at your schedule for today. Ask yourself “What is my mission today?” Regularly ask yourself this question throughout the day. Use your high-VQs to accurately answer it. Understand how this mission will help you progress toward your goals in life and your work.
- Then continually ask yourself “Which activity, if I did it excellently and in a timely fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on my life?”
- Whatever the activity or task is that can help you the most, set it as your goal for the day. Make a plan to achieve it and go to work on your plan immediately.
- Now schedule everything else around your mission and most important task for today. Don’t put it off or try to “find” time to do it. “Make” time to do the most important activity and find time to do everything else on your list.
When you have this clear focus and pursue it with persistence, you will find a tremendous boost in your productivity as well as your self-confidence and purpose.
When setting your priorities you must decide what you want most out of your life and then organize your time and activities so that everything you do is the most valuable use of your time for achieving your objectives. Your long time perspectives (high VQs) are the best perspectives to use!
REMEMBER: Long time perspectives are major contributors to your success in life!!!
Want to learn about your VQs? Or, have you tried the assessment in the past and want to see how you’ve grown? Take a free assessment and start using your thinking and valuing strengths today.