“Without a plan to win, the will to win is merely a dream.”
The Power of Focus
Planning is the means by which you bring your expectations into focus and shut out all distractions. It gives you direction for the passion which comes as a result of expecting to win. Organized planning drives out fear and uncertainty and gives you a solid framework from which you can begin taking actions towards achieving your goals.
The motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said that if you have dreams but you have no specific plan of action for carrying them out, you qualify as a dreamer.
Now, it’s important that you go into the planning stage with the correct mindset: expecting to win and refusing to lower your standard. Remember, you can expect to win before you ever draw out a plan or start taking action on it. In fact, you MUST do it in this order if you want to have any hope of winning.
But once you’ve set that expectation, it’s time to get started on the planning stage by writing down a plan of action and getting started on it right now.
Whether you’re ready or not.
The writer Mark Twain said that the best way to do something great was to start right now. He then followed up to say that the best way to start right now is to develop a plan of action and to start on the first step right now.
This is the second step to the winning formula.
Now here’s where most people go wrong when it comes to planning to win: they try to come up with the perfect plan before they start taking action.
This is a direct invitation to what is called “paralysis by over-analysis” and it will cause you to fall prey to the most brutal and ruthless enemy of success: procrastination.
Not only that, if a person puts too much work into the plan before taking action on it, they run the risk of becoming more attached to that plan than they are to their original goal. So if they plan starts to fail, it’s harder for them to take it apart and change the things which aren’t working.
Most of the time, they choose to stick with the plan instead of making the end result the primary focus. Obviously, this means that they continue to apply a plan which isn’t working, or which is only half working. Eventually, they get worn out and lower their standards.
Hear this loud and clear: When it comes to making your plan, just do the best you can, write it down and get started on it…whether you’re ready or not. This is often a lot faster than guessing, analyzing and trying to come up with the perfect plan before even testing it. This way, you’ll put your plan to the test and you’ll learn what’s working and what’s not.
Let’s look at how that’s done…
Okay, since we already substituted the word impossible for unbelievable, we might as well do a little more vocabulary modification when it comes to the word ‘failure’.
Failure = Feedback
That’s right, when your plan fails, treat that failure as feedback and nothing more. Too many people waste their time and energy trying to either avoid failure or learn to cope with it emotionally…as if it were something bad.
Both of these lead into procrastination. The best way to deal with failure is to treat it as feedback…and what do you do with feedback?
Well, you have two options: you can either ignore it, or you can learn from it and restructure your plan accordingly. Trust me, the second option is a lot more effective.
Think of it like putting your hand on a hot stove and feeling the burn…that’s feedback. Yes it hurts, and so does failure… but it’s also your best friend. It gets your attention and tells you that you need to make a change if you want to avoid more pain.
That’s exactly the way I want you to start treating failure: as an opportunity to receive feedback, to learn from it and to correct course by adjusting your plan.
Here’s the problem which most people have when it comes to responding to failure: they lower their standards. That’s right. Instead of learning from failure and restructuring their plan, they restructure their expectations.
Just think about the last time that you began to achieve something that you were really excited about. Did you fail somewhere along the line? If so, what was your response to that failure? Did you restructure your plan, maintain your standards and keep going?
If not, you probably took the common path and lowered your standards instead. That’s okay. Just learn from that and remember that next time the key is to treat failure as feedback and use it to restructure your plans.
Now, there are probably at least a few people who are thinking:
“Why not just come up with a solid plan in the beginning instead of having to restructure it?”
The answer is that there is no such thing as a plan which will never require restructuring in order to be effective. And if there was such a plan, the only way you could develop it is if you had already reached the goal which the plan was designed to reach.
Think about it, if you want something that you don’t already have, it’s because you don’t know how to get it. That’s why you don’t have a perfect plan yet. And even after you achieve your goal, you won’t have a perfect plan which someone else can follow and achieve the same goal.
If this were possible, everyone in the world would be rich, healthy, happy with their careers and ecstatic about their relationships. There is no perfect plan. Every person must pay the price in order to have what they want, and that price is learning to use feedback as a tool towards achieving success.
Let’s look at how this is done…
Now, if you’re still terrified about the idea of taking action on a perfect plan and using failure as feedback in order to correct course along the way, you should be comforted by the following truth…
The more you learn from your failures, the better you will get at duplicating success. The Nobel prize winning scientist Neil Bohr once said that an expert is someone who has made all of the mistakes possible in one narrow field.
Think about it, no one starts out as an expert. Everyone has to pay the price by enduring failure in order to learn what works and what doesn’t. The good thing about this is that the more times you fail at something, the closer you come to learning how to succeed.
As long as you maintain your standards and continue restructuring your plans, it will be impossible for you to NOT learn what works. And what do you do once you learn what works?
You do it again, and again and again and again and again and again.
Of course, you could go back to trying to find out what works by studying, analyzing and planning before you bother to take any action. But even if you find the “perfect” formula, you still have to take action to get the results…and this will always mean risking failure.
Again, there is no such thing as a perfect plan.
Even the strategies which have made some people successful might completely flop for you, and vice versa. After all, there are so many personal dynamics which go into achieving something new: your physical body type, your personality, your learning style, your subconscious conditioning, the circumstances which you encounter while pursuing your goal….so many variables.
But the sooner you start taking action, the sooner you start gaining feedback and the sooner you can start customizing your plans according to what’s working for you. And the sooner you do this, the sooner you’ll learn how to create success on demand.
Just think about the American Real Estate Tycoon Donald Trump. Here is a man who made a fortune, lost it all, and gained it all back again.
How did he do it?
He simply duplicated the things which he had used to make himself successful the first time…but you’d better believe that he endured some failures the first time around. And what he learned from those failures is what he used to create success again.
Another example of this is the founder of the Honda Corporation. This is a man who lost everything that he had more than once, and every time he rebuilt it again. And every time he rebuilt what he had lost, he learned something new.
Through this process of learning from feedback and restructuring his plans, he became the founder of one of the most successful automobile manufacturers in the world. So once you’ve set your goal and built an expectation for achieving it, write down a plan and get to work on it.
This way you can maintain your original standards, receive feedback, and earn your own pass into the experts club. And that’s called playing to win…