Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up some place else.”
January typically marks the beginning of a new plan for the New Year. So, why is it that so many things don’t change with the beginning of these new plans? It takes only 30 days to form a new habit yet, by January 10, nearly 98 percent of people have broken their new plan and don’t even recall what they had committed themselves to doing.
The bar is low when it comes to the commitment of strategic planning and even lower with respect to following through on the commitment. Individuals and companies alike remain prisoners of their past and the habits and ideas formed from those experiences. Instead of looking to the future with positive energy and examining the possibilities, they look to the future with limitation based on these thoughts that are holding them captive. You can either buy experience or learn it from others. And believe me, the cost and pain of buying experience is way too high.
So, how do we conduct and create an effective strategic plan in order to release ourselves and grow to our full potential as individuals and organizations?
Principle One: Surround yourself with great people. Entrepreneur and speaker Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” You must surround yourself with people who inspire, challenge, create thought-provoking concepts and have a diversity of experiences and backgrounds. If your strategic planning session is filled with “yes people,” you will only accomplish a self-satisfying ego trip. A great planning session leaves you inspired yet drained emotionally and physically. You should leave with a clear vision of what to do, where to go and how to accomplish those goals. Remember, improvement means you must know and understand the weaknesses and not your strengths; therefore, the discussions are challenging.
Principle Two: Know the end before you start. Joseph Duda, the visionary leader of A. Duda & Sons, said, “If you don’t know what the end is you will never be able to get out or know if you arrived.” In strategic planning, you need to have a clear picture of what you want things to look and feel like before you start the session. The end might change as you develop the strategy or as you are in the implementation stages, but ultimately this provides you a clear picture of the target. Distractions are those things that you notice only when you take your eyes off the target.
Principle Three: You must GROW. Strategic planning is not about how to decrease your business or limit your prosperity, but is instead about growth and abundance. Bernie Simpkins, the accomplished entrepreneur of S&S Enterprises, stated as he began to enter retirement, “Growing money is so much easier and fun than trying to manage it; managing is always about limiting risk and growing is about seizing opportunity.” What a powerful realization that growing your company is more fun than trying to maintain it. Stay in the growth and create stage of life – it’s exciting and full of opportunity. In order to grow your company, you and your people must be willing to grow as individuals. Your company is the sum total of your people.
Principle Four: Leave your ego at the door. One of my favorite quotes is, “It is never about you but always up to you.” What an intriguing balance we must achieve as leaders. When in a strategic session with other powerful, positive people, you must allow the process to happen and for the fast-thinking entrepreneur this can be frustrating. Let go and allow the discovery process to impact the end conclusion. Most of your employees need time to think. It is simply the difference in personality types. Don’t force the end conclusion but let them discover it.
Principle Five: Implement. A plan without action is like motivation without a plan – it leads to total frustration. An old country boy once said, “Motivation is like a good shower – two hours later you’re dirty again.” You need to be personally driven, develop a plan and then have the courage to take the action needed to accomplish the result. Motivation will get you up in the morning but it will not sustain the day without a clear and organized plan of implementation. Typically, the entrepreneur does not possess the skill set for this task; surround yourself with better people of opposite skill sets.
Good luck and when faced with the fork in the road – take the one less traveled the next time.
Jeff Piersall is the co-founder and CEO of SCB Marketing. Contact him at email@example.com or (321) 537-4941