Stick to the Plan

Time can only be used once & hind sight is always 20/20. It’s easy to look back on something that went wrong, and after forensically examining the wreckage—knowing what went wrong and why. The point is you [individually or collectively] took away a major learning experience.

I came across a saying recently “Lessons are expensive, Good ones cost you lots.” But as long as the scale of the lesson is survivable, then the setback can be seen as extremely valuable.

The one thing worse than learning a lesson through failure, is not having the opportunity to learn the lesson in the first place or abandoning the opportunity to learn for some reason which doesn’t make sense, such as ‘Changing your mind.’

Stand your Ground

What I’m talking about is Discipline, or the lack of it. As a leader, I’ve spoken about having belief, and having vision but as a leader you’re going to have to do numerous other things. One of those things will be to come up with plans, and then to put them into place—to make them happen.

But plans don’t always move forward as expected. There is another saying that “No plan survives first contact with the enemy” and usually there is always something that’s been forgotten, something that been under or overestimated, or a timeline perhaps that just wasn’t realistic.

But it doesn’t mean that a plan is or was wrong to start with! The implementation of something . . . anything will deviate from the outlined scenario when its put into action, but when things deviate, diverge . . . whatever, it is going to be discipline that steers the proverbial ship through the choppy waters.

You see there is a difference between seeing a problem and immediately making a correction, followed by another, and so forth, before you end up making so many changes that you lose sight of the original intent versus holding firm and sticking with the plan to see how it actually comes out.

You see just recently I wrote a novel. After a failed attempt a few years back, I researched how to write one, and the Google results were epic. Hundreds of pages of people telling you not to give up and just keep going, along with the occasional systematic plan that could be followed.

I saw one that seemed logical, simple and easy to implement. Rather than doing months of research and analysis, I picked one method, started with it, stuck with it and discontinued any further research to avoid mental contamination and noise.

There were countless times, where I wondered about deviating, and changing things, but in the end I followed my gut. I stuck with the plan, never knowing what the outcome would be, but knowing that the plan would get the job done! Results would come later.

The Issue

12 months ago, that novel got completed and its now available for purchase, but the point is very few things in business get people’s noses out of joint quicker than tinkering with a plan before it’s had time to deliver real data on its desired outcome.

By no means am I suggesting that you should commit to a plan on Blind Faith or ignore definitive results with Willful Blindness.

But what I do want to present is this. Your team who are doing the work respect and trust you. If there were obvious problems, they’d say something. Right?

What will turn your people against you, faster than realising you’re an agent of evil—is poor discipline. I’m not talking about ruling over people with an iron fist and making sure that staplers are perfectly aligned in the office.

I’m talking about staying the course until you get to critical milestone or a review point where a logical decision can be made. There are times where calculated risks are taken, but once a commitment is made, it’s important to have the discipline to stick to that course of action.

Constantly changing your mind, and making alterations, isn’t just a sign of missing things—it’s a sign of insecurity and lack of faith in yourself & your plan to start with. When this happens more than once for vital reasons people feel like they’re getting whiplashed from one place to another, and it doesn’t take long for trust to erode, faith to evaporate and outright open uncertain frustration to set in.

Long term frustration is a just a stepping stone away from exodus!

Step Back, Ask & Answer

Before you change something what are the question you should ask yourself? Is the plan genuinely not working? Was something overlooked? Why are we going to change this? What are the impacts of the change?

I said earlier that blind faith and willful blindness must be avoided at all costs, but I’ve seen plans that take years to bear fruit. From a marketing perspective it could take months before your message begins to sink in and you see sales.

As a sole trader it could take you weeks to get your first customer but a plan is just like mass. It can take time to get things moving and longer before you gain momentum, but changing the plan often comes at the worst time. The bigger the plan, the more time it’ll take, and the more chance you have of chickening out right before you see that result. Stand your ground!

You can never know the future or what’s around the corner, but I would always suggest, that before making a change to a plan ask your self—‘has the plan had enough time to produce a result?’

And if you’re going to cancel something—‘has the plan gathered enough data to figure out where it went wrong?’

If the answers are positive, speak to your team and let them know what and why. As a leader they respect you and want to trust you. They might be upset but being part of the change will at least let them understand.

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