Are You Planning for the Future or for the Present?

John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The Beatles. Four names as familiar to a generation of fans as any on the planet. But there was a time when it wasn’t John, Paul, George, and Ringo. It was John, Paul, George, and Pete.

Pete Best. The Beatles’ original drummer. The one they fired and replaced with Ringo Starr just when they were on the brink of stardom.

So why did poor Pete get fired? (And, by the way, don’t feel too sorry for Pete. I know Pete, and he’s actually quite happy with his life.)

There are many explanations for why the Beatles replaced Pete Best with Ringo Starr, and most of them probably had some bearing on the decision. But as a Beatles expert and lifelong drummer, I find the most compelling reason to be this:

The Beatles were hiring based on where they wanted to be, not on where they were.
Pete was a good, solid drummer whose booming bass drum drew the crowds into those seedy Hamburg clubs where the band learned its craft. His drumming was perfectly fine for the basic rock and roll they were playing during those formative years. But, fine though it was, Pete’s drumming was limited. There wasn’t a lot of versatility, and there was no indication that he was going to become a more versatile drummer.

Many other bands would have stuck it out. But the other three Beatles (especially Paul, who was always the best musician in the band) had their sights set on the future. And to get to that future, they needed a drummer who could keep up with the music they were going to be making, not just the music they were currently making.

In other words, the Beatles made a decision to hire for the future, not for the present. And that decision paid off handsomely.

So let’s apply this to your business. As a leader, are you making decisions (hiring, equipment purchases, marketing, etc.) based on where you are today, or on where you want to be tomorrow? I would suggest that if you’re making your decisions based on where you are today, you’re already behind the curve. You need to make your decisions based on where you want to be, not on where you are. And to do this, you need three things:

You need a clear vision of where you want to be.
You need a clear idea of what it’s going to take (personnel, equipment, etc.) for you to get there.
You need the courage to commit your money, time, and energy to those people and things that will get you to where you want to be even when the uncertainty of it all seems scary.
Some leaders might say, “I’ll hire better [read: more expensive] people when my business progresses.” That’s the safe move, and it seems logical. But the fact is that your business won’t progress (at least, not at a decent pace) until you do hire better people.

The Beatles could have said, “We’ll stick with Pete until we become superstars; then we’ll hire somebody better.” But it was by hiring somebody better – Ringo Starr – that the Beatles became THE BEATLES, and achieved the future they’d been dreaming of.

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