“Faith is Taking the First Step, Even When You Don’t See the Whole Staircase.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What’s the plan? How will we get there if we don’t know the plan? Have you ever been in a room when a lofty goal is offered to a company, team or even a family? Within a nano second, somebody speaks up and says “but HOW?! How will we achieve this thing?” I want to talk about the tension that often exists between the “goal” and the “how” in this article.
Get several people in a room and ask them to debate what’s more important, goals or plans and you are likely to get a spirited debate. The goals folks will say “look, without a destination, any plan will do” and the plan people will say, “without a plan, your goals are just a pipe dream”. Maybe you are more drawn to one of these statements or you are drawn to both of these statements. Maybe they are both of equal importance? I believe that of course both are important. It is indeed a polarity that exists in our world, much like the tension between task and process.
However, if you research and study the best leaders and maximum achievers, then you will see that the one common piece that they all share is a vision, a big picture goal for what they want to do with their lives, their business, and their time on the planet. Do they create a plan? Do they consider their tactics? Of course they do. But here’s the most important part. Vision and goals come first and stay first!
I have seen the anxiety of not knowing the plan get in the way of people setting goals or communicating vision. Sometimes, asking about the how, is a way of us consciously or unconsciously resisting the vision or goal. We can’t see how something could be achieved so we don’t set the goal to achieve it. The best of the best find a way. If we get too fixed on the plan, then we can let the plan come first. I have seen that we often make plans because we are afraid. We are afraid of starting when we don’t know exactly how each step will look like. We don’t know and can’t know what every step will look like. Even the best laid plans will have something come up. And we can’t anticipate every single unforeseen issue. We can certainly create our “what if” list. But notice when the “what if” list starts getting louder than the goal and the vision.
The best of the best figure out where they want to go and then have total faith and belief in themselves to get there. They resolve to pay the price that is necessary to achieve what they want to achieve. They are resilient. Yes they make plans, and they are willing to let go of them and start over when a problem or better approach comes along.
Notice when you put the plan before the goal. Keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t argue over the how as much as the what. The plan, tactics, or approach serve the goal. Don’t let the goal serve the approach or plan. It’s not either or; both are important. But goals come first.
Notice if you’re getting stuck on the how or if you are using the how to keep you from doing what you are afraid of. When we set lofty goals, we are going to take a risk. Studies show that the best of the best are willing to take risks in their lives and careers.
If you ask some top leaders, people who really make things happen in their lives and ask them about their goals, then they will tell you what they are. They know their vision and goals. They know what they’re trying to achieve. Bill and Melinda Gates want to eliminate poverty and poor health conditions in the world. Can you imagine if they waited to have the plan perfectly laid out before they decided to act? They’d still be pontificating in their living room. Ask them about their vision and goals and they are clear. Ask them about their plan and it probably shifts as needed by the year or day if necessary. In fact, here’s a quote from their web site “As we learn which bets pay off, we have to adjust our strategies and share the results so everyone can benefit.” The goal manifests the plan.
Develop your plan. Consider your approach. Consider future challenges. AND know that your plan will probably need to change if you are going to manifest your vision and your goals. Hold your vision tightly. Hold the plan lightly.
Thank you for reading and for sharing your comments. I am sending you great energy, support and wishes for all the success that you can handle as you continue to navigate your leadership journey.
your coach, fan and friend,
L4 Leadership LLC