The Power of Planning

Lesson 4: If you don’t have a plan, you are planning to fail.

Today’s lesson was inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author of a great book called The Little Prince): “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

What This Means to You
This is one of my favorite topics and I’ve given countless presentations on it over the years. I truly believe the old adage that ‘if something is worth doing it’s worth doing right” and if you believe that too then I’m sure you will agree that the first step towards doing something right is to come up with a plan. When you take the time to develop a well thought out plan not only are you giving yourself options but you’re also setting yourself up for success. Without a plan you are likely just winging it and increasing your odds of making mistakes or failing all together. You are too good for that. Take the time to make a plan and start turning your dreams into realities.

Let’s Look at an Example…
Consider this light-hearted scenario: let’s say you and your friends play flag football and you’re signing up for another tournament. You know your team is good because you’ve one some championships in the past so you’re pumped about having a chance to compete again and perhaps bring home some more hardware. However there are a few wrinkles this time — for starters there are a couple new guys on your team and you’re not sure if everybody knows all the plays. Plus when you went to the signup, you saw some new teams on the charts that you didn’t recognize before and that always makes you a bit nervous.

The tourney is still a couple weeks away, what do you do?
A. Don’t panic — you’re confident you have the best team so just show up and play
B. Meet with your new guys the night before and go over the plays
C. Schedule multiple practices, make wristband play cards, and go early to the tourney to scout the other teams
D. Withdraw from the tourney and play golf instead because your wife said ‘you’re too old for football!’

The fact is that your team could be the best athletes on the field but if you don’t practice and play as a cohesive unit, you’re asking to lose. This scenario comes from my own life — I’ve often played on teams in which neither I nor anyone else on my team was the best athlete, but we regularly beat teams that had more talent and took home way more championships than we ever had a right to win. In fact, we actually won the 2003-2004 National Championship in the Let It Fly Flag Football League (admittedly it was in the ‘Recreational’ division, but hey a title is a title, right? Check out this pic…)


So how did a bunch of old, short, white guys who didn’t even play high school football consistently beat bigger, taller frankly much more athletic and usually much younger teams? We followed Plan “C” – we practiced more than most other teams, we scouted the competition to know what they would do, we all knew the plays inside and out, and we always had a plan on how to attack/defend each team we played because we took the time to know our opponents. It wasn’t complicated. And it worked again and again and again — in fact during a 5 year stretch we won the championship in 75% of the tournaments we entered! Now you might say, “Mike, who cares, it was flag football?” To which I would simply say, “If you’re gonna do something, do it to the best of your abilities or don’t do it at all – whether it’s flag football, a big sales presentation, or even asking someone to marry you – go all out!”

The fact is that Plan C will get you to your goal more often than any other. In our example, if you are the best athletes you could probably just roll the dice and show up (Path A), but aren’t you just short-changing yourselves if you do that? How many times have you seen a NFL team which all the talent but doesn’t use their weapons properly and just seem totally inept? It’s often because of poor planning. Don’t be like that. Put in the time, have a plan, and make the most of your talent.

As for Plan B, that plus your talent is certainly better than Path A but clearly not as good as Plan C. That said, at least B gives you a chance to come up with a better plan and that plan could very well give you the little extra you need to win it all. Any plan is better than no plan, right? Then again, you could always just choose D – give up on the football and go play golf instead. However if your golf game is like mine, this could be the scariest choice of all!

The point here is really a simple one – if you don’t have a plan, you’re asking to fail. But if you take just a little bit of time and come up with a plan AND you follow-through with your plan, then you will more often than not find success. So give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Don’t Wait, Use This Wisdom Today
What’s on your agenda for today? If it’s important, take the time to make a plan and do it right. Even a simple plan is better than no plan at all.

Did You Know?
Today’s lesson came from a book Jax and I wrote called Diary of a Minecraft Dad

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