One of my good friends, Jon Hokama, wrote a very interesting article today about maintaining balance:

As people age, they begin to worry about falling. They tend to start looking down at the ground in front of them to be sure they won’t trip over something. Ironically, that posture will most likely lead to them falling!

This danger lies in our inner ears, which are finely tuned to help us maintain balance when we look ahead to the horizon. When our vision shifts down closer to our feet, we can no longer see the horizon. Maintaining our sense of balance becomes increasingly more difficult.

I find this analogy really fascinating, because I can relate to it.  Some years ago, I had a problem with my inner ear, and as a result I lost most of my balance.  I was walking into walls, and couldn’t ride my bike.

What happens in this situation, and with most physical ailments, is that you become very NOW-focused, just worried about the next step or two.  As a result, you aren’t really living life anymore, you’re just surviving.

I see the same thing in business all the time.  Especially when customers dry up and expenses are tight, the focus is on surviving TODAY.  Do anything you can to bring in a buck, and don’t spend a nickel more than absolutely necessary.

The problem is that your business goals quickly evaporate.  You want to be known for delivering quality?  Sorry, that got sacrificed.  It’s just a matter of time until your customers notice.

You want to make a contribution to your employees and community?  Sorry, that cost a little more than we’d like, so it gets delayed.  And the delays have been going on for, oh, three years now.

Your role as business leader is to put your head up and look at the big picture periodically.  Look at the horizon, and let your inner ear – your intuition and wisdom – do its best work.