“All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.”(Brian Tracy)The interesting part about success is that it is not a preserve of a few.
If you study the laws of success, and follow them you will be successful. You can be successful in any area of life if you apply your mind to what you want to do, and plan your way to it. Instead of waiting for outcomes, you plan the outcome.
That is what great people to do. Last week I started on the Discipline of Planning, and promised to continue this week.
“Counting the cost”
I trust you might have heard the phrase “counting the cost”. This was captured by Dr. Luke around AD80-90 quoting the words of Jesus. I found the passage apposite and worthy of reproduction; “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counsellors to discuss whether his army of 10 000 could defeat the 20 000 soldiers marching against him?” ((NLT) Luke 14:28-31)
This passage could explain why there are so many unfinished houses, unfinished commercial projects today, and several other projects in Zimbabwe.
Have you seen certain people who work so hard, and dig the trenches for a house and then disappear? I have seen several.
The answer is simple, people do not take time to plan and see whether they have the resources to finish the project.
This applies to any facet of life. If you do not plan you will not succeed. If you do not plan as well, you will be embarrassed.
The second illustration of the army speaks as well to the power of planning.
You need to know and understand what you are getting yourself into and ask yourself whether you have the resources to sustain the challenge. Without proper planning, and preparation humiliation is inevitable.
The excitement of taking action should not overtake the need for good planning.
The interesting thing about the principle of counting the cost is it speaks to the question of resources and utilisation of the same. Successful people master the importance of this discipline on planning.
Do you take time to count the cost in your personal life? I agree with what Bunker Hunt once said, “To be successful, you must decide exactly what you want to accomplish, then resolve to pay the price to get it.”
If you do not know about Bunker Hunt, he was an American billionaire who made his fortune in the oil business. At one point it was believed that he was making at least $3 million every day.
He lays out profound principles which if mastered can lead on to a life of success.
Last week I was talking about “good planning and hard work”. Planning alone will not make you successful, but planning strategically will. Your ability to think, purposefully plan, decide and execute determines the entire course of your life.
When you master these areas you will also enhance the pace at which you achieve your goals. The purpose of strategic planning is to enable you and your business to organise/reorganise and structure/restructure your activities so as to achieve a higher quality and quantity of outputs. Strategic planning also enables you to achieve profitability in whatever area that you are into.
Strategic planning also enables you and/or organisation to utilise its people and resources more effectively. It is one thing to have resources, and it is another to effectively utilise the resources.
The failure of organisations cannot always be explained in terms of absence or lack of resources, but lack of a firm strategic plan on how to utilise the available resources.
Elements of a good strategic plan
The organisations we come from differ, and also our individual backgrounds differ. So, what works for me, might not necessarily work for you.
However, in my experience in strategic planning, there are minimum elements which I think are indispensable when developing your strategic plan either for yourself or for your organisation. The following elements are critical;
Mission — You need to have clarity of your mission as an individual or organisation. This speaks to you as a person and as an organisation. Mission inspires confidence and motivation in you and all those people who deal with you. My mission as an author, speaker and attorney is simple, “I want to inspire people, I want someone to look at me and say, “Because of you I didn’t give up”. This guides me even when I am preparing for a Court case. The way I prepare and handle my case must inspire the beneficiaries of my work and also me. Why settle for mediocrity, when excellence is within my range (John Mason). What’s your unique mission?
Principles — in the absence of guiding principles you will fall for anything. You need to have clear principles that determine your behaviour. Principles will take you through difficult times. It is easy to compromise when you do not have principles. How you behave either in private or in public is more to do with your guiding principles. What are your guiding principles?
Value — What value do you add to other people? If you are in business, what value do people get from you? What do people benefit by associating with you? What is the benefit of your presence in a particular environment?
Once you are clear on this, you need to work on constantly developing yourself so that you have something to offer. You cannot give what you do not have.
Destination – Without a destination, you will never know if you have arrived. If you lack clarity in terms of where you want to go, you can live a frustrated life because you will never accomplish anything. No matter of hard work will make a difference where there is no clear destination. Where do you want to go with your life? Where are you driving your organisation to?
Strategies – You need to have a clear strategy as to how you are going to achieve your individual goals. Your strategies must also speak to the question of focus. You do not need to do everything; you need to put your mind and attention to the areas that will give supreme results. Commit your finest efforts to your finest priorities. I talked about this principle in the previous articles where I was talking about “The Power of Positive Focus”. Your strategies will also speak to the question of resources, competencies, technology and the human capital needed for you to achieve your goals.
Planning saves you time in execution
Former American President, Abraham Lincoln, once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Do you know you actually need to plan on execution? How are you going to go about the execution? Remember the principle I wrote about last week, “good planning and hard work”. It is possible to be used up, whilst not getting any meaningful results. Planning saves you from exerting energy in areas where you will not get results. You need to constantly evaluate the quality of results that you are getting every month, or quarterly depending with the review mechanisms that you have in place.
Are they speaking to superior profitability? What is the message being sent about your manner of planning? My good friend Jonah Mungoshi always says results do not lie. Results speak a lot about you as an individual or as an organisation. What separates successful entities from unsuccessful ones is good planning and great execution.
Plan life after you
Warren Buffett, once said, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” You are not an immortal, and the most dangerous thing is to live and behave like one. Great people think and plan generationally. Do you take time to think about life after you? What have you planned for the next generation? Greatness is not measured by what happens in your presence, it’s measured by what happens in your absence. If you are a parent, the greatest gift you can ever give to your children is to prepare them for your absence.” Great people think and plan in terms of legacy. The quality of legacies you leave are determined by the quality of choices that you are making today.
I have been talking and writing for some years now. I have discovered you can talk with the loudest voice, and even write a very detailed article but people still go back to their old ways of living. The question I am going to ask you is, you have read all these things what are you going to do differently? Are you going to get inspired, talk about the article and then forget about it? I want to challenge you to commit to change and commit to do things differently. I will close with the words of Peter F Drucker “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
I will continue on the next discipline next week. Do not miss out the next edition of the Business Weekly.
Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney, keynote and peak performance speaker, business strategy facilitator commanding the stage with his delightful humour, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. He is a financial wellness expert and is passionate about addressing the issues of wellness, strategy and personal development. Arthur is the author of the “Personal Development Toolkit”, “Keys to Effective Time Management” among other inspirational books. Follow him on social media, or WhatsApp him on +263718867255 or email [email protected]