Daily Lab: The end takes care of itself

Take care of the means, and the end takes care of itself.

Daily Lab: The end takes care of itself

In 1944, a British military historian published a short book attempting to explain why humans don’t seem to learn from history.

Summing up his perspective on millennia of military and political conflict, he wrote:

“If there is one lesson that should be clear from history it is that bad means deform the end, or deflect its course thither. I would suggest the corollary that, if we take care of the means, the end will take care of itself.”

When we try to make marketing move quicker, we often lean hard into our means—our effort, our resources, our energy, our time, our money. We invest heavily, quickly.

But one must ask: What is the end of a business that does that with its means?

The end will be quick, but likely not in the way its owners hoped.

But what if, instead, we focused our means on steady, sustainable, effort—targeted at our areas of greatest leverage and on our relationships of greatest influence?

What would the end of that business be?

It might indeed be a slower business, but slower in the most important areas—slower to panic, slower to fear, slower to fail.

“Failing fast” is a great way to prototype software, and a terrible way to run a business.

Because even when we want to speed things up, we must remember that all we control is our means, not the end.

So let’s take this one lesson from history, and apply it, no matter how hard it might be:

If we focus solely on the end, we won’t have the means to get there.

But if we focus on our means, the end takes care of itself.

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