06 Aug Eyes off the prize
Chess masters don’t focus on the pieces on the board, they look at the empty space for potential moves. Professional footballers don’t look at the player with the ball, they look at the other players moving into position. Amateurs focus ONLY on the pieces, on the ball.
How many times have you been in a meeting and someone has said “Keep your eyes on the prize”? It’s often said when the discussion drifts off topic and the intent is to bring it back on point. But, the pitfall lies in the “prize” becoming another form of target fixation. In sports, strategy games, combat flying and even covert surveillance, target fixation is a major watch out and to be avoided at all costs.
In marketing, blindly fixating on the end goal could result in missing other important factors, which need to be considered and could ultimately impact your end game. Hit the short-term sales target at all costs… Achieve the market share KPI at the expense product development… Over commit to direct response advertising to fill the sales funnel and forget about the brand. There are many ways target fixation manifests in an organisation. From a psychology perspective, the more we focus on the anticipated pleasure of achieving our goals, the less we focus on the actions necessary to get there.
The reality is, goal setting can help create and maintain motivation. But fixating solely on the achievement of goals can limit our ability to achieve them. A constant evaluation of the changing dynamics keeps you in control of the process. Often then, success requires eyes off the prize and on the individual tasks that go into achieving a goal. This is a discipline and one that must be practiced, refined and honed.
So, next time someone tells you to keep your eyes on the prize, don’t take it too literally. Because nothing is ever fixed, the pieces are always moving. And like in chess, it’s in the middle game where most games are won or lost.