One of my favorite sayings is this (a slight paraphrase of T. Boone Pickens): “An idiot with a plan will beat a genius with no plan every time.” Whatever situation I find myself in, I always have a plan for what my goals are, and what I’m going to try to get there.
Having a plan is so important, because if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. The only way to know if what you’re doing is working is if you have a plan and objectives you can measure your progress against.
But at the same time, the plan is not everything. You create a plan, and you start there, but you have to be willing to adapt your plan to what is actually happening. If you start working and find that something isn’t working, you can’t just keep on doing it just because it’s “in the plan.” You have to adjust and try something else. You need a plan, but one that is flexible and can be changed when you realize there’s a better way.
As a quarterback, we worked hard each week on a game plan. I would sit in meetings with our offensive coordinator and talk about the different plays we wanted to run, and how we wanted to approach the game against the other team’s defense. But once the game started, we had to be ready to adjust whenever the plan wasn’t working. We might go into a game thinking we would be able to run against the other team, but if the game started and we weren’t running effectively, we had to be ready to change the plan on the fly. Maybe their plan was specifically focused on stopping that part of our team, and we needed to instead take what their defense was giving us rather than sticking to what we expected. Game plans didn’t just change from game to game, but from quarter to quarter, and from play to play!
It’s all because the most important parts of the plan are the goals. Where are you trying to go? Even if your ultimate destination remains the same, your plan for how to get there can change along the way, as you find better and more effective strategies for achieving those goals.