May 08 2013

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not into football, at least not as it is played here in Britain. However, I caught a bit about Alex Ferguson’s retirement today and there was a key point in the radio show that I thought was quite poignant. In the early 90′s Patrick Barclay – Interviewed Alex Ferguson towards the end of the 91/92 season and at the time it looked like MU would win the league. When asked whether or not he thought they would, Alex’s reply was “It’s not just about winning this league, it’s about creating an institution that will last”

This is what real success is about, and I would argue what made Alex Ferguson so successful, and what makes some businesses more successful than others. He was focused on the long term, and while short term success is great, it isn’t if it is at the cost of long term success or in business, profitability. There’s no point focusing on the next quarter if you won’t be around next a year.

In his retirement speech, Alex Ferguson said “”The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.” It was what he set out to do, and in doing so, he delivered success after success making him, according to everything I’ve seen, the most successful manager in football history, at least here in the UK (I’m no expert).

Many of my friends are Liverpool fans, and while I am sure this is in many ways a happy day for them, I’d like to think that they at least appreciate what Alex Ferguson has done in terms of building that institution. In your business, are you focusing too much on the here & now, or are you in it for the long haul, working towards building something that will last? Developing your talent, not just sweating your assets. Long term success is about exactly that, thinking long term…what do you think about, where do you focus, will you be there to enjoy the spoils of your efforts?

photo credit: minhquangle87 via photopin cc

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