First a quote: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
I was working with a colleague over the weekend, doing final preparation for an upcoming workshop we’ll be co-facilitating, on the topic of strategic agility. The conversation was invigorating and thought provoking. Certainly, agility as an organizational competency, is timely given the world in which we now all live and work. Helping people, leaders, and organizations think and act with more agility is certainly a “hot topic” in my profession.
Perhaps I’ll explore agility as a topic in future MMM missives.
For now, as often happens to me, my mind is spinning on other agility-related MMM topics, concepts, and of course, a few of my favorite quotations, including the one below by Dwight D. Eisenhower:
“Plans are useless,
but planning is indispensable.”
As I pondered this quote, I began thinking about how frequently the well-thought-out plans of so many people have been disrupted almost every single day over the past two years. While uncertainty is a fact of life, it seems to be on steroids since we first heard the term Covid-19 in early 2020.
I invite you to do a little personal reflecting about the past two years; how many plans have you heard about that needed to be altered? How many have you personally experienced? How many of the following stories have you heard?
- Weddings, after months of planning, had to be postponed or cancelled
- Business ventures, mergers, acquisitions, etc., delayed and/or cancelled
- Businesses closed; businesses started
- Vacations cancelled
- College careers delayed, changed, or cancelled
- Retirements, delayed, accelerated, cancelled, or forced
- Relationships/marriages strained and/or ended
- Working arrangements changed or altered (think WFH)
- Flight cancellations are now becoming almost routine occurrences
The list seems endless. For some, going through any of these experiences may feel like you have been punched in the mouth as Mike Tyson described in his quote.
It is easy to understand how some people might begin to think, “Why bother making plans when they’ll likely be changed anyway?” For some, it may seem futile making plans for this coming weekend, or next month, let alone the rest of their career or life. Plans, when continuously cancelled or changed, could begin to feel useless.
How about you? Have you begun to think that planning seems futile? If so, now is a good time to ponder on the second half of Eisenhower’s wisdom: “but, planning is indispensable!”
While it might be true that we can’t fully see or anticipate every uncertainty that lies ahead, the planning process does yield very powerful benefits. Planning:
- makes us more fully aware of our resources, both limited and abundant.
- helps us explore alternative scenarios, both pessimistic and optimistic.
- allows for more preparation for the most likely scenarios, negative or positive.
- helps us contemplate and choose our priorities more intentionally.
- provides those who plan, with higher levels of confidence and competence.
- helps us see more options with greater levels of hope and positivity.
Planning provides planners with more options. People with more options have more possibilities for success. Short and sweet, planners are more prepared no matter what obstacles life throws in their direction.
I attribute the following advice to my dad. “I would rather you be prepared for an opportunity that never comes, than to be presented with an opportunity for which you are not prepared.” The boy scout’s motto seems to be spot on; Be Prepared.
How do you plan to live, love, or lead, differently, or better, this week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “By Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” – Richard Cushing
- “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett
- “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso
- “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” – Tom Landry
- “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” – Thomas Edison
- “Just because you made a good plan, doesn’t mean that’s what’s gonna happen.” – Taylor Swift
- “Good planning without good working is nothing.” – Dwight D Eisenhower
- “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” – Earl Nightingale
- “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” – George S Patton