The Right to Actions, Not Results
How a 1,000 year old text could change the way you look at business
“The Right to Actions, Not Results.”
This is a quote from the Bhāgavata Purana, a sacred Hindu text from the year 1,000 CE (Common Era), but one that could be applied to today’s business world. While you may not be Hindi (myself included), it offers a fascinating way to approach what means most to you. In today's world, the reality is we are judged on results: whether it's sales, profitability, or deals closed, it makes no difference. What this quote offers is the perspective that we have no control or right to them at all. The only rights we have are to the actions that will bring those results. Sounds intuitive, but lets look a little deeper.
When we create something we are truly invested and committed to, there can be the belief that the results should be what we expect them to be. This can narrow focus, delay adjustments, and ultimately spell success or failure for your endeavor. When you remove these blinders and focus on the actions and dispel any expectations of their product, there is a freedom that allows for greater discovery and possibilities.
This can be applied to either your personal or business goals with the simply put: focus on the action, not the result. This approach is especially helpful for a goal that does not hold immediate return and requires sustained effort and commitment; requirements for any entrepreneurial pursuit. With a far off goal, the individual actions taken in the present directly influence the results in the future. While understanding and defining the end result is important, we can then identify the individual actions for its attainment.
Let’s give an example I recently encountered. I consulted a start-up consumer products company that wanted to go from $8 million dollars per year to $20 million dollars per year in three years time. Management discussed with the sales staff to set targets, approach, etc. To their credit, they had a great product with a loyal following. Despite tremendous growth thus far, this focus on the result pushed many significant issues to the background from production to logistics to pricing to meet this 2.5x increase in sales.
The result was that these issues that always existed were magnified, margins plummeted as bulk sales required deep discounting, and cash flow issues surfaced as they were not properly staffed to handle the volume of invoicing and receivables. In short, it was disastrous and targets were not reached; I was brought in to make sense of it and find a way out. The post-mortem revealed that the brisk period of growth and demand for the product focused efforts on attaining results and not the action of addressing the issues plaguing the company. They had the right to action (fixing the company), but not the result (2.5x increase in sales).
For me personally as an entrepreneur, I keep this quote close to me, as I am sometimes thinking 10 steps ahead and striving to accomplish something quickly (the result) when the focus should be on the individual actions to achieve it. So whether it’s calling a potential client, making a presentation, or assembling a proposal, my focus is completely off the result.
My hope is that you find this quote as beneficial as I have and may add value should you find thinking too far ahead, as entrepreneurs tend to do.
Learn more about the author, Marc Yilmaz.
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