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One should have long term agenda to succeed in life at every stage

In the first part of this article,we discussed the disease of the short term and its manifestations in society - at the school, professional college and work place. We also discussed its manifestations in organizations. Moving further, let us try and learn from some of the examples in sports.

Take the case of the recent success that India has enjoyed at the Olympics. When one reads behind the success which we now associate with the champions, what is one thing that is common between Abhinav Bindra, Jitender Kumar and Sushil Kumar? They had the relentless focus despite the distractions, hard work and phenomenal discipline to pursue on their vision in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. In Abhinav’s case, it is a ten year saga, in Jitender and Sushil’s case, it is similar. During this preparatory period where their efforts went largely unnoticed, a short term disease manifestation would have prompted them into giving up in the face of obstacles,maybe even taking on performance enhancing drugs in an effort to slip through the loopholes of the system. Many others fell prey to such temptations and lost the race. The ones that pursued against the odds were the ones that triumphed in the long run.

The media today makes a big story of these examples and the projection is that India’s efforts are bearing fruits in the global sports stage. Unfortunately, these three triumps represent a victory of human spirit despite lacking the institutional ecosystem to continuously throw up excellence. I am sure, when we talk of a sport like badminton, most of us can connect with Prakash Padukone’s victory at the All England Championship as the greatest high for the nation.Why is this triumph still an isolated example of excellence in that sport? This is because; we mistook Padukone’s victory as a triumph of the system whereas it was that of an individual despite the system. The Padulones, Bindras and Kumars will keep happening once in a while and we can all feel happy when they happen. However, unless the systems are conducive to work on the essentials behind such victories, it would be hard to repeat the same regularly and institutionalize it as a well honed process. The Chinese, Americans, Australians have made excellence in sports an endemic system and continuously develop champions. This only happens with a relentless long term focus despite the odds.

Money alone is not enough. It requires vision, a roadmap and relentless discipline in action. Despite the amount of money in cricket, India is still far from institutionalizing excellence like the Australians who run cricket like a legendary organization does. The focus on development mechanics, the details of the sport - fielding, strategy, leadership training for the current leader and incubation of leadership at the next level, the physical fitness and many more facets make their vision to being the best in the world by far, a continous and sustainable reality.

Take the case of music. Despite all the shortcomings and stress that the music reality shows on television cause, they have spread a key awareness. A long term holistic approach is the key to achieve excellence. For those aspiring for accolades in Bollywood music, it is key to have learnt the fundamentals of music and even more so to relentlessly practice to be at the top of the heap. However, learning the fundamentals and practicing is not good enough unless the participant is innovative and performs with newer and fresh nuances at every performance. This is because, practice and fundamental training have become entry criteria today and are no longer differentiators in the larger play field. It is evident to all of us that such a long term focus is mandatory for sustainable success in the profession. I am happy to say that many from the younger generation understand the long term focus and start training from a young age. A great mindset for setting a pipeline of musical talent and bodes well for all of us.

Indian city administrators have rudely woken up to the reality that the citizens expect better quality infrastructure in the form of better roads, rail, walkways, green spaces, health care, disaster management and more.The Chinese have been investing in this area for years and the fruits are now more visible. Any visitor to China will remark that the Chinese vision over the last two decades and relentless execution of this long term agenda has paid off more than any of our numerous short term patchy roadworks, poor attempt at road divider beautification or railway expansion to cite a few examples.Ample demonstration, that civilizations with a detailed vision and relentless execution capability are powerfully enabled and those without either of these two essentials are at risk.

So what is the moral of all these anecdotes and examples? Each of us needs to pursue the long term agenda in our lives relentlessly. We need to develop our own visions, roadmaps and execute on the plan rigorously. If our vision is inspiring enough, we will be able to surmount any obstacle and constraint to triumph in the long run. Our salvation lies in long term thinking. Let us all commit to it now in every walk of life.

Whenever, people argue that despite all their efforts and focus on the long term, success still is elusive, I would suggest a wise man’s quote, "When nothing seems to work, I go and look at the stone cutter who is hammering at the rock a hundred times with not a crack to show. However, it is the 101st blow that splits the rock into two.Was it the 101st blow which was successful and the winner or the 100 that went in before it?"