This is a post about how we put ourselves into unfair disadvantages by ignoring the importance of planning. I'm not referring so much to THE PLAN, as I am the ACT of planning, or even better - your VISION.
I often hear people make comments such as “plans never work out the way they are planned” or they mention something along the lines of business is dynamic and always changes. They essentially put out the impression that planning is a waste of time, and to just go with the flow.
While I believe this can be true at some level that plans often don’t work out exactly as we plan. I also believe that if as an individual you are gullible enough to believe these comments as being the absolute truth, then it immediately puts you at a severe unfair disadvantage.
For example, it’s my opinion that often people who hold powerful roles, or privileged circumstances in their life, currently have a kind of advantage that enables them to project the illusion that they DO NOT worry so much about plans or what the outcomes may be, especially in the short term. Like they just have some kind of Devine intuition, and good thing happen if you just go “all in”.
Let’s explore this idea a bit. But before we jump in, let’s just make a couple of distinctions with our vocabulary.
The first word is “powerful”.
I think one of my favorite definitions I’ve heard is “the ability to influence change”. This means that "people with power" have the ability to influence the direction of your life and other’s life choices whether those are positive or negative or direct or indirect.
The second word is “privileged”.
Which basically means “having special rights”. And this doesn't always mean that a privilege is something that they just enjoy in their own life or standard of living.
Think of a CEO, executive, manager, or a client who takes up a good chunk of your time and effort each day, week, month, year, with calls, meetings, quick projects, business trips, etc. because they “cut your paycheck”.
You get the privilege of a paycheck, they get the privilege of using your time, attention, and skills to accomplish some kind of tasks, goals, or objectives.
Granting privilege could also apply to your friends, spouse, kids, or other relatives that all command or want some level of your attention and energy.
We all grant privileges to others and have privileges granted to us. So if you feel pressure from this, just understand that you are choosing to grant them that privilege of occupying your time whether it is spending too many hours at the office, or skipping out on daily mountain bike rides, monthly fishing trips, and backcountry hikes because of “urgent projects that go overtime” or little Jimmy's soccer tournament or baseball games taking over the weekends.
And the third word is “circumstance”.
Which basically means a current situation or condition. Hint, it’s not permanent.
So with those distinctions, let’s jump in and explore this topic some more…
The two main advantages held by powerful people in privileged circumstances:
Advantage #1: Finances
People in powerful or influential circumstances often have roles with a high perceived value, which in turn often results in a sufficient and surplus of income.
Maybe they have an executive title, investor backing, or maybe they have sold a business. Crudely speaking, this surplus gives them the margin they need to float until the next opportunity materializes or a better deal comes down the pipeline.
This does not mean that these people don’t have anything to do or that they are just sitting around waiting for others to serve their every need and desire.
It just means that their financial circumstance enables them to NOT be excessively worried in the immediate future about whether or not they are going to be able to pay for their rent, or go hungry.
This circumstance enables them to pick and choose, and most importantly gives them options. Such as the option to say NO to low value opportunities.
It gives them the ability to hunt large game and cultivate their crops, and not waste their time chasing rabbits and squirrels and picking berries just to survive every day.
It also can lead to them downplaying the importance of finances or not thinking about it as intensely because they already "have it handled".
The thing is, it's highly unlikely that their success "just happened". And it is highly likely that they spend a LOT of time thinking about their vision, next moves, etc. and are focused and continuously executing on the plans they have already worked on, while they are working on the details for the next phase of plans.
As individuals living paycheck to paycheck, this part of the equation produces a severe disadvantage when it comes to making choices.
A lack of sufficient income or savings, can inadvertently force people to feel like they need to make hasty choices that are often not in their best interest because they don’t have the time or option to unpack the details or ask the right questions and get honest answers.
The moment we start to do that, we begin to feel like the opportunity will fade or slip away. In turn, we bounce from low-value opportunity to low-value opportunity.
It’s a shoot first, clean up the mess later approach to life that always ends up with more and more messes to clean up.
Obviously, a lack of planning keeps us in a disadvantaged position. And the act of planning opens up possibilities. It gives us new ideas, it draws out potential obstacles that we can anticipate, and more. So why would we want to believe that planning is a waste of time or won't ever work out how we expect?
Advantage #2: Network
However, income alone is not really where the power is. It’s more than likely that influential people have a high quality network that supports and enables them. Even if they fail, it’s likely they will be able to bounce back quickly if they hold any clout with their network, or have not deliberately lied or committed fraud on said network. And sometimes, even those who have lied or committed fraud STILL get away with it because they have a strong network.
A lack of a powerful network puts us at a severe disadvantage, because again we are inadvertently forced to make choices or decisions that may not be best for us in the long term. This time it’s often based on the fact that by human nature we tend to go with the decision of the group we are in. And if we try to compete against said group on our own, our chances of winning are slim. No let me rephrase that, we’ll get absolutely smoked. It would be like trying to play a professional soccer team, as the solo contender.
SO, what this means for you or I (AKA the introverts, hard workers, independent contractors, or busy employees) is that we get wrapped up in other people’s agendas and basically give away our own power. We allow ourselves to just say “OK, I’m all in!” without fully understanding what is it in for us, nor do we receive any type of REAL commitment from the other end. They make the rules, and we consent to playing their game. Often out of fear. Fear that we will lose the job, or the income, or that we won’t be able to support our family or pay the rent.
Now, just think how much you could turn those advantages in your favor if you did take some time to plan. Because it's more than likely that the less of your own plan that you have, the more of someone else's you will become.
As a famous quote from Dwight Eisenhower states...
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
- Dwight Eisenhower
How much time do you really have in a year? Or more specifically, how are you going to use your 8,760 hours between getting enough sleep and rest, eating healthy, exercising, spending time with your family, and having fun - plus doing the work in your business or career that will support your life?
Break it down. Be honest. Put it on your calendar so that you can clearly see how little time you have. When are you going to do those activities? How important are they to you?
Be sure to say NO to things that don’t matter or that won’t bring a lot of value to your life and the lives of others.
Who are you going to spend time with? Do these people add value to your life? Do you add value to their life? Do you even WANT to spend time with them? Unfortunately, even if we wanted to spend quality 1-1 time with everyone we know, we realistically don’t have enough time.
How about income? Is the time and effort you will be investing in your job or projects going to give you the income that you need to support yourself and your family, pay your taxes, save, invest, and still have margin for the lifestyle you want to live?
Two keywords to consider in your planning process that will improve your advantage in most circumstances:
1 - Margin
Give yourself room to breath.
More than enough money to pay for the things you need, and want in life.
More than enough time to handle the things you need to do in life.
2 - Diversification
Activities, opportunities, clients, people.
Don’t depend too much on any single source. Actually the only “source” you should “depend” on is yourself, but what I mean by this is to alleviate the pressure of expecting too much from individuals in terms of help, advice, work, income, etc. No one person or entity ever has all of the solutions.
Think in terms of building networks vs a network.
Income streams, not just a stable paycheck.
I hope this opened up a few positive angles for you to consider. All of these areas often require some level of planning, especially if you want to identify where the bottlenecks are.
The point is not to create a fight between "us and them", the objective is to not let others take our power away simply because we let them due to a perceived circumstance and a lack of planning.
At the end of the day, plans really are just us trying to guess what we want our future to look like or what “could” happen.
But personally I would rather be making guesses about what I want my future to look like by imagining, writing, calculating, mapping, and prioritizing - rather than simply waiting and letting anyone or everything around me to put me in a circumstance that I didn’t imagine for myself.
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