Recipe for failure…

“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy. Do what is great while it is small.”

Sun Tzu

Rarely do great works become easier because you put off starting. Rushing to get something done at the last minute isn’t a mark of high efficiency but is instead an indication of poor planning and prioritization.

I used to believe that I did my best work when I was under the gun, under the pressure from needing to hit a deadline. The truth is that I was using that as an excuse for not setting aside the time to tackle the hard work before it became a last minute time crunch.

Doing the hard work is much easier when you plan for it appropriately. Waiting until the last minute isn’t a plan, it is a recipe for failure…

Execution, not perfection…

“A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

General George S. Patton

There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Trying to get it just right and waiting until it is perfect means that nothing will ever get done. I’d much rather have a good plan well executed than to wait another minute to try and get something perfect. It just isn’t going to happen. Seeking perfection is the enemy of execution.

Fear not…

“Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie Ten Boom

Thinking things through is a great skill and one that will pay dividends when things don’t go exactly as you planned (and that will happen to all of us sooner or later). But worrying, obsessing, getting lost in the fear of “what if” or “why me” doesn’t help improve our chances of success.

There is a big difference between preparing and worrying. How we handle this difference makes such an impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. Planning is proactive and positive. Worry is negative and emotionally draining.

There are so many good bible verses on worry but here are two of my absolute favorites that I go to whenever I cross the chasm between planning and worry.

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” Luke 12:25-26

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Planning is an investment…

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

battle black board board game

If you want to be successful in the game of chess you always have to plan ahead and think through your next several moves.  You don’t know how your opponent will react to your plan, nor do you know what moves they planning to make, but to have a chance at winning you can’t simply be reactionary, you must make the effort to plan ahead.

How much of our time do we spend planning versus reacting?  I have found that time invested in planning enables one to both act, and react, with purpose, design and intent.  Effort expended without having first spent time intentionally planning ahead is always reactionary and tactical.

Will plans fail?  Of course they will.  There is no way to anticipate every outcome, see every possibility, know every possible challenge that will rise along the way. However, I believe that the investment of time in planning allows one to simultaneously exist on two planes.  First is the the proactive, what do we want/expect/intend to happen? Second, what will we do and how will we react to the world around us?

Time is the currency of life.  How do you want to spend it?  Will you spend it with intentional purpose to create a desired output, i.e., planning?  Or will you spend it in a tactical way, never in charge of or responsible for how it is used, i.e., reacting?

 

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