Did you never wonder why we have our eyes right next to each other and not, for example, one above the other, or one at the front and one at the back? The parallel arrangement obviously is evolution’s favorite. This genetically preferred eye-array has therefore influenced our behavior and the way we look at things: predominantly with a strong focus. That’s why we laugh at „Johnny Head-in-the-Air“, when he runs into a signpost or misses a turn, and regret the cow that doesn’t seem to notice the butcher right in front of her. We forced to take close notice of what is around us, and those who didn’t were eaten by predators and hence eliminated from our gene pool.
But since we are also descendants of predatory ancestors we can best aim for targets – by means of our forward-looking eyes – that are right in front of us. We are killers: if we were flight animals, like horses or rabbits, we’d had our eyes stuck at our ears and we would view the world in a quite different way. Clearly this is not the case and we are bound to take a close look at what is in front of our noses, which therefore quite often leads to ‚tunnel vision‘: we can’t even turn our heads more than 90 degrees!
Hence it’s no surprise that this genetic feat influences the way we look at challenges that we face in our day to day office life. We mainly pay attention if we have clear goals in front of us and if our killer-instinct can be unleashed. The clearer a goal pops-up, the easier it is to go for it! And in this behavior, there seems to be no difference – also biologically – between women and men.
No surprise either that the goals organizations set themselves are also following this biological phenomenon: they need to be clear, distinct, and unambiguous as well as measurable. Because without a definite goal and a confirmation that we’ve hit, we obviously can’t be successful. Continuously we need new goals as well: to grow further, to win, to own. And when we’ve reached it – our goal – we just set new ones again! Today 1%, tomorrow 2%; 100 bhp to begin with, 200 bhp next; 65kg today, to 60kg in July! If we destroy our world, because of our goal setting craze, we just set new goals to build it up again. If God had settled our eyes next to our ears, we still would have been in ‚Garden Eden‘, chewing on greens: but the apple we would have never noticed. We only stop hunting when we reach that top rung – Hello from Mr. Maslow!
In meanwhile most of us have climbed the ladder and from the top spot, we can see that it’s a dead-end street: nothing to hunt from there, no new needs, just a repetition of the same that is not bringing us further. Post-modern reality is becoming a fact, we are turning in cycles. What are the new goals we can now aim for? Or do we need to accept that we do not need new ones? Can a business continue to exist, if it just pastures, so to say, instead of hunting? Can we create a society with these hunting human beings that build on altruism, wealth, happiness, and satisfaction – all aspects that, as soon as you have them, can’t be increased anymore?
Or would we panic then, because we fear to be ambushed, as soon as we start pasturing?
We might need to overcome our urge to continuously find newer, greater goals if we do not want to fall from that ladder; we might need to adopt a new view on what is driving us instead, and observe what is in front of us with new eyes. Maybe we should take a break, relax, design the world accordingly, and then enjoy a well-deserved retirement? Instead of constantly renewing rather improve the existing; instead of craving to possess rather share what we have; instead of predatorily hunt, just sustainably pasture.
Not possible, you say? Ah, true, our eyes…