Long Term, Short Term

Day 292 Week 42 Q4 Friday, October 20, 2023

Life for creative outliers can be challenging. It is hard to get paid for what you do not know.  Yet, it can be more exciting to do what you do not know because it requires more creativity to figure out what is going on when you are on a steep learning curve. When things are too familiar and repetitious, they may be less exciting. Creative people may tend to be short-term oriented in order to be engaged. We are generally not known for patience. 

There are ways to be short-term and long-term oriented at the same time. Hey, we are creative, right? Seriously, there are ways to be excited about a small part of the bigger picture. You really do not have a choice; there is no short vs long competition, but if you absolutely do have to choose, try harder for the long term than the short term. This is why some portion of your creativity must be applied to enlarging the scope of what you are looking for or working on.

You do need to tolerate ambiguity in order to have more than one perspective at the same time. And that means long and short-term can actually be handled at the same time if you are adept at perspective switching.

Here is an example. When I was at Bose working on the first electroacoustic integrated digital piano, there was a lot of resistance from people way above my pay grade. This should not have been too surprising because upper management at Bose did not exactly approve this project. In fact, I was actually prohibited from working on making a digital piano. But there were other companies I could convince to partner with us. And there were other people within my company who did like the idea. Essentially, I convinced others within and outside of the company to supply the resources. This was not illegal; it just required other points of view to be present at the same time. Definitely both short and long-term.  There was no market for digital pianos with built-in amplifiers and speakers at the time because there were not any of them yet existing. Also, I was not in the product development part of the company but in research.  

Many short-term milestones appealed to many different people. All I had to do was keep a lot of different people’s short-term perspectives satisfied at the same time over several years to eventually accumulate everything needed to add up to the big-picture goal I wanted. When rolling the prototype in the president’s office on an office chair covered with a black cloth, he said where did this come from? You had no budget and no people to work on this. 

He was so excited that a two million program came into being in this manner that I was permitted to proceed to get the product into production. It can be worth your while to combine short and long-term.