Clay explains that why companies & individuals fail is that we are predisposed to focus on activities that provide an immediate/tangible evidence of achievement. In this way activities that do not pay off for years or decades in the future are neglected. That is, there is no investment for the long term.
Clay suggests that instead of being measured by an aggregate measure (e.g. big pools of money), at our death, we will be measured on our impact on others. Choosing the right measure is important. Our actions are influenced by the measure we choose.
For a corporation, I interpret this as companies that invest enable sustained, positive long term growth. Their investors and employees experience symptoms of safe & nurturing environments (e.g. dividend growth for their personal financial situation, positive workplace where innovation is rewarded).
This is in contrast to the high pressure cooker “meet today’s targets to bolster today’s stock price” environment. Symptoms of this situation are constant stress and a feeling that you’ve missed an opportunity to contribute meaningfully.