Have you ever been told to “keep both eyes on the ball”? A friend of mine said that very thing a while back. His business is struggling and he is battling the constant fight to maintain balance between the future (vision) and the present (day-to-day responsibilities). He, and his business it seemed, was at the end of their ropes.

Business at the end of its rope
Fear not failure. Fear the mediocrity that comes from never trying. (Tweet That)

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This is what I wrote to him and what I write to all of you, whether your business is struggling, wildly successful, or you have no business at all:

It’s so easy to stray from your vision by getting sidetracked by day-to-day work.

It’s not that you lost sight of your vision. It’s that you never really had a vision to begin with.

This idea of “keeping both eyes on the ball” is insane. What ball are you talking about? Hopefully not the day-to-day work, because that ball often gets in the way of your big goal.

What sport are you playing when you say you need to “keep both eyes on the ball?” I mean that seriously.

In basketball, the shooter doesn’t look at the ball. The quarterback doesn’t look at the ball (nor does the center snapping it). The pitcher doesn’t look at the ball. They look at their targets. (Yes I get that receivers and batters do but run with me here)

All of those are the drivers to the play. It doesn’t matter what is happening around them; defenders chasing them, crowd cheering, time on the clock, nothing matters but the goal. Nothing.

You say yourself that your company is going through extreme financial struggles right now.

So why would you focus on that?

If (big IF) you have a vision for where you want to end up, a goal, a basket, a catcher’ mitt, you have to focus on that. Focusing on what you have already identified as negative is literally going to get you nowhere. It’s one thing to inadvertently do so, but you know the present is not positive, so focus on the future.

Think about this: If you focus on the future, on achieving the dreams you have for the company and fall short, what is the worst that can happen? That you go out of business? That probably will not happen. But it could. Can you live with that?

If you focus on the present problems and keep trying to just make it to tomorrow, what is the worst that can happen? That 30 years from now, you are fighting this same battle.

What a pitiful existence to live. What a horrible way to go through life. I know that you would much rather bust it and fall flat on your face, beaten but not battered, ready to try again someday.

Worst-case scenario

The first worst-case scenario has a second chance. You fail, you go work for someone else, make good money, and try again.

The second worst-case scenario never ends.

Go for it man. What do you want in your business over the next year? The next three? Dream a little, take the time to cast a vision, and for just a moment, one tiny little moment, be OK with the worst-case scenario.

Fear not failure. Fear the mediocrity that comes from never trying. (Tweet That)

I know you can do it. There are others (spouse, friends, etc.) who believe in you. Now believe in yourself, keep your eyes forward (not on the ball), and go do it!

Have you ever allowed the day-to-day work to get in the way of your big dreams?

9 thoughts on “When Your Business is at the End of it’s Rope | Failing Business

  1. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    Sometimes people focus on the day to day because it’s familiar and feel safe. And yes, it can so distract from the big vision.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Great point. Why think big when thinking small is so darn comfortable.

  2. Dan Erickson says:

    I like your thoughts here, Matt. Looking at the future, the big picture, is good. But I can also understand how day-to-day issues can become so heavy as to bring a business down. There is a line between dreaming and action that also must be considered,

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Totally. Abandoning the day-to-day is how businesses wake up and realize someone has embezzled $500,000 and didn’t notice it. Not that that ever happened to me or anything.

  3. Zech Newman says:

    I have for sure. When things are going sideways it is easy to feel like you are worse then you are. It feels as though a mountain needs to be moved. The truth is usually its a small change that is only seen when the end goal or vision is looked at.

  4. Katherine Leicester says:

    Success seems to require behaviors I’m not used to, including setting aside the daily stuff and regularly and intentionally casting a vision for myself. In some ways I’m learning to treat myself as the cherished employee I will have this time next year–communicate! Be clear! Cast the vision! And on and on it goes.

    Great post as I’ve come to expect, Matt. Narnia and the North!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Powerful quote Katherine: “Success seems to require behaviors I’m not used to”

      So true!

  5. Travis Scott says:

    Absolutely…I think we all have allowed that to happen. Something that works well for me is deciding on what is productive vs what is just doing work to be busy.

  6. David Mike says:

    I try to work at my job with an owners mentality however, I am not the owner. I have a goal of writing my life story however and finally got my blog set up to get the book going. I am determined to keep moving and not let anything stop me. I have tons of support through Jon Acuff’s Start Experiment and my family. My wife told me while waffling about it one day, “Do it or don’t do it!” She has been a serious source of motivation. I am in awe of your ability to create content BTW!

    If you are interested to read my risk, where I punched fear in the face this morning. here it is.


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