The frenzy of college football captivates millions each fall. At the center of this whirlwind of cheers and taunts is our hero, the quarterback. Under pressure, he leads his team to victory and glory by outthinking and outplaying the competition. The best quarterbacks have a special instinct to throw the ball to the exact spot their receiver is going to be. They know where to aim.
We are all the quarterbacks of our own lives, and knowing where to aim can be the difference maker between being a champion and an also-ran. Yet too often, shooting for the wrong target leaves us with lost opportunity or broken dreams.
When I launched my third company in 1995 most people thought I was crazy. My business was building these bizarre, new-fangled contraptions called “websites.” I would literally call potential customers up and ask them if they’d ever heard of the Internet. Now most people starting a business would look at research and market data, which in this case would have revealed there was zero market for a website development company. While true at that moment, I was aiming for something I saw in the future. Because of that “future aim,” my business was a success and I ended up selling it to a public company in 1999.
In today’s world of dizzying speed and radical change, it’s easy to miss your target. Whether you are launching a product, opening a fashion boutique, seeking a job, or rebuilding a broken community, the focal point must be ahead of you. You need to anticipate trends and changes in the competitive landscape. A solution that is spot-on in the near-term may completely miss when it’s time to go live, even if it’s only a few months away.
As a venture capitalist, I am pitched ideas from eager entrepreneurs who need funding and support to realize their vision. Misguided dreamers often develop their idea in the context of today’s market environment without anticipating the momentum of competitors. It’s as if the world will freeze for twelve months while they develop their new product.
The problem is that the world never freezes. In fact, we are in a state of perpetual motion like no other time in history. New political upheaval. New scientific breakthroughs. New regulation. New competitors. New natural disasters. New ideas.
As you seek to realize your fullest potential, never forget that we are all aiming at moving targets. Don’t let the past or even the present mislead you into taking a losing shot. Projecting your mind’s eye into the future when aiming your company or career will allow you to hit that bull's eye you desire.
[Image: Flickr user Ed Yourdon]