Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gains and losses

There are two primary ways to approach what we want and how we live:

Short term gain, long term loss


Short term loss, long term gain

An example of short term loss, long term gain is education or training. It's an investment of time, money, focus, energy, homework and extra research if you love what you're learning.

The payoff is that the training can set you up in a career you pursue happily the rest of your life; or it can prepare you for advanced training to allow you to do what you love the rest of your life. Artists live with this mentality. Spiritualists live this way. Those pursuing their dreams and doing what they love live like this.

In business, it's research and development (R&D) that is the short term loss (expenditure). Or giving workers additional education to enhance their knowledge of the job in order to keep them up to date, understanding the state of the art options or to maintain its competitive edge.

It's also taking a share of the profits and mining them back into the company in the form of enhancing the workplace, training, giving deserving workers raises, or increasing the quality of the product. Or having a company stock sharing policy.

These practices make not only for loyal employees who work hard, but who are proud of their industry - what they produce - and in turn a consumer base that wants to buy what you sell.

In acting, it's carefully choosing your roles so that your audience grows to trust your choice of projects. Think of the actors whose films and shows you are sure to watch because you know they only do projects that are great - projects you know you'll love to watch.

Interestingly, once that actor is in a real clunker, who appeared to do the movie just for the money or whose script was a real stink bomb? That decision is a short term gain with a long term loss.

That trust is broken, and you will now be much more careful to check out whether the film is really any good, because that actor has made a decision with a short term gain ($$$) and long term loss. Lots of fans won't show up just because that actor is in the film after the icky project they just saw you in and paid all that money.

Going to a film is expensive if you get anything to eat; especially for a family outing!

And that is the cost of short term gain, long term loss mentality: doing a lousy film for money instead of loving the character, the script or the project itself.

This "short term gain, long term loss" philosophy will be the undoing of capitalism because it ultimately results in cheating, cutting corners, greed and a lifestyle that creates a false belief in what we "need" to be successful - or to even appear to be successful. Because its motto is based solely on the bottom line, on profit, rather than a healthy relationship inside the company and with it's consumers - it's "more" - not "better."

Jobs are always insecure - the hope is that because of this fear, employees will work that much harder to remain in even the most menial job.

I'll never forget working for a TV station whose greed was unparalleled. The company chiefs would seek out single mothers for crucial but menial and administrative assistant jobs that paid little, because they knew these women would work very hard and not rock any boats because they needed the jobs and money so badly. And they were right. I'm sure this is true for anyone responsible for raising children, men or women.

One company that defies all the "modern" desperate bottom line business practices and continues to be astoundingly successful is SC Johnson. Continuing to seek better quality in its well established products as well as work to satisfy customers with new products to make our lives healthier, cleaner and safer at a reasonable cost, SC Johnson takes pride in treating its loyal employees respectfully, as well as showing appreciation for their hard work in material ways.

Just so you know I have *no* connection whatsoever with the company and they have *no* idea who I am - and I didn't learn this from any self-serving propaganda or advertising. I've heard about their practices from other (envious) business executives very familiar with them and people who know the employees.

Contrarily, Enron was a short term gain (profit, profit, profit), long term loss company. In fact, just about every time you read where a company that was so "hot" just months ago has just gone under, leaving customers stuck without their goods or services, you're looking at a company that tried to make too much, too soon.

Especially when they try to spread themselves too thin. Now, creating new branches may appear to be a short term loss (investment) for a long term gain outcome, but if it's done to make as much money as possible as soon as possible? Whoopsie.

Company growth carefully planned to make certain the home office continues to be strong as well as each new office/branch is definitely a short term loss, long term gain practice.

On the other hand, massive expansion that starts the ol' buying out more and more companies, pushing the new acquisitions to make more and more profits without regard for product or employees ... run into a brick wall. They are forced to realize despite their best efforts, they can't squeeze blood out of a turnip. Sooner or later, even though the company may try to convince everyone they're producing blood - we'll all find out, sooner or later, it's really just weak turnip juice.

Meanwhile, the executives of the turnip juice company have sold off all their stocks, stolen millions, and put their ill-gotten gains into offshore accounts which can neither be found nor taxed. So they have to spend a couple years in jail? The money is available to their families and will be there for them when they get out.

Short term gain, long term loss creates a shaky future. It's basic economics.

Addicts live this way.

Greed can become addictive if the appearance of having lots of money is experienced by others as looking "successful." Business folks who live only to please stockholders through profit gains live this way. People who endanger their marriages by having affairs live this way. People who want to manipulate someone into having a relationship or marriage live this way - it's not the relationship itself and the welfare of both people that's most important, but rather the appearance of a relationship with a particular person. This happens to lots of high profile and wealthy people who are vulnerable and targeted by those who want to share their high profile, money or perhaps just be with them for security.

The hope was that capitalism could be practiced with at least a modicum of integrity and dignity. Ebeneezer Scrooge was the exception, not the rule back in the day, right? Good businesspeople are the salt of the earth. They provide a good service or product at a reasonable price and have terrific customer service because they are part of the community in which they take pride and their goal is not to become rich quick but to practice the business they love the rest of their lives in a community they love, or until they grow too old to be efficient. Short term loss, long term gain folks, them.

Today it's all too often the case that businesses are set up to make as much money as possible so the folks involved can get rich quick and move on. Short term gain, long term loss of the business but they see it as long term gain for the money they will live off. Problem is, just having money to live off of is a pretty empty life.

Here's something else I've realized: kids who are taught to get good grades rather than focus on learning, experience a short term gain, long term loss. If you're working only to get the grade, you're learning how to work the system rather than really learn what will help you when you start working or go to advanced training for a career, college, or whatever you'd love to pursue.

The same is true of teaching kids how to take tests rather than actually learn what they need to in order to have a fulfilling life, work or make choices based on knowledge rather than guessing.

*Most* of the hundreds of people I've coached over the years have said the *one* thing they regret in their lives is that they didn't learn more while they were in school. They figured out how to get the grade, then spent the rest of their time doing anything other than homework or making the most of their learning opportunities.

Definitely short term gain, long term loss living.

Me? I'm a short term loss, long term gain kinda girl. And that long term gain period actually starts much sooner than you'd think - because what I do in the short term is so rewarding while I build for an exceptional long term gain that is lasting the rest of my life.

What is your mindset?

Short term gain, long term loss?


Short term loss, long term gain?

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