Seth Godin says:
"I guess the trick is to make the long term items even more urgent than today's emergencies. Break them into steps and give them deadlines. Measure your people on what they did today in support of where you need to be next month."
We all fight fires. But if you are fighting fires everyday, how can you possibly create something really grand. So the key is to work on the present realities today but at the same time create tasks (with deadlines) on areas that will help you in the future.