Your future might be an extension of your past. Emphasis on might!
One of the key reasons that successful organizations and individuals eventually fail is that they assume their future is an extension of their past. They assume that because they are a success today that they always will be.
They take their foot off the gas, their eye off the ball and they decide, at least subconsciously, to leave the fundamentals to other, less successful people and organizations. They have already succeeded and they fall into the trap of thinking that fundamentals are for those still trying to succeed.
It’s the mistake of mistakes.
Today’s success merely gives you a head-start on tomorrow’s. It provides you with a foundation, a roadmap to future success, but it guarantees nothing.
It makes little difference how long you’ve known success, the moment you stop doing the things that made you a success is the same moment that your success begins to fade.
In 1968, Switzerland dominated the world of watchmaking as they had for the previous 60 years. They had more than 65% of the world unit sales and over 80% of the profits. They not only made the best watches in the world, they were continually improving them.
The Swiss were so far out in front in the watchmaking industry that no one was an obvious second.
Then, something shocking happened that laid waste to the Swiss Watch industry.
In less than 10 years, the advantage the Swiss watchmaking industry was built upon was demolished. Between 1979 and 1981, 50,000 of the 62,000 watchmakers in the country lost their jobs. Imagine a downturn so severe that 80% of the employees were gone in a matter of two years. That is an amazing but true statistic.
It was not that the Swiss were lazy, on the contrary, they were constantly innovating and improving their standards.
A paradigm shift occurred. One of the fundamental rules of watchmaking had been abolished.
Watchmaking shifted from mechanical to electronic.
In that one change, the entire competitive advantage of the Swiss watchmaking industry was lost.
The irony is that the Swiss were not only aware of this paradigm, they practically invented the technology that created the shift. In 1967, Swiss researchers invented and patented the electronic quartz movement. Yet, when the idea was presented to the Swiss manufacturers it was rejected.
While it is not certain specifically why the new watch was rejected, it was probably linked with the fact that it didn’t look like a watch. It didn’t need bearings, it required almost no gears, it was battery powered and it was electronic.
It simply couldn’t be the watch of the future because it had so little resemblance to the watches that already existed.
The entire Swiss watch industry assumed that their future was absolutely an extension of their past. They assumed that because of their long-term huge success that they would always be a long-term huge success.
You could say they got big headed and maybe a little arrogant. The problem is, big heads don’t think clearly and there is never a good time to be arrogant, even if you make the best watches in the world.
The lesson here is simple: when you take your success for granted your success won’t take you very far.
Never assume that a good today guarantees a good tomorrow. You may not be able to predict the future but that doesn’t mean that you cannot create it.
Create the future that you desire by keeping your head small and your mind open. Remember, your past success provides you with a roadmap to future success, not a promise. The best way to ensure your success is to continually earn it.