All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out which victory is evolved.
– Sun Tzu
How many of you reading this have used a strategy already today? That’s what I thought. And the challenging part is that most of you who don’t think you used any plan of action, yet, really have done so. How challenging that you don’t even know your own playbooks. There is a very old saying that goes like this: “Even a blind pig can find an acorn now and then.” In other words, even the most unqualified and inefficient people can get lucky. This article is all about getting you into a plan of action mindset so that your successes are ultimately reproducible and self-consistent.
Let’s begin with a profound understand of what a strategy is. Perhaps two of the most effective definitions for a magician are from Henry Mintzberg (http://www.mintzberg.org) and Max McKeown (http://www.maxmckeown.com). Mintzberg said that strategy is “a pattern in a stream of decisions.” And, McKeown powerfully stated that “Strategy is about shaping the future.” For our purposes, then, we will craft (or re-discover) the successful patterns that we use everyday to shape a desired future. This means that you will need to think about a some long-range plans. It also means you will need to start focusing all your energy on what success and victory mean for you.
To develop your own battle plan or life strategy for success, there is a five-part process. And, like most things worth having, preparation is the real secret to getting what you want. After all, if you don’t define and specify what you want to achieve, attain, and accomplish, you are relegating your success to a series of happy chances.
The Thinking Magically™ Battle Plan Formula
1. Acknowledge Your Attainments. A good strategy starts with knowing your strengths and the skills with which you have to work. This entails getting real and assessing, measuring, and evaluating what you do well. Remember, a good battle plan for success permits you to ruthlessly seek triumph while, at the same time, masking your failings. This would be a good time to start a list of what sets you apart from your competition, what you already do to meet your and your customers’/clients’ expectations, and what has worked for you in the past.
2. Admit Your Ambitions. A magnificent strategy, in order to bring you impressive results, must fortify something you already have or help you to achieve a great goal. To put it another way: WHAT DO YOU WANT? Many people are reluctant to put their purpose or intent into concrete form. Some even adopt the old Woody Allen saying, “If you want to make G-d laugh, tell him your plans.” At the risk of provoking heavenly chuckles, I encourage you to sit down and write out all that you want to achieve. A strategy, by the way, is about outcomes so you’re writing down WHAT you want to achieve not HOW you are going to do that.
3. Assign Your Alternatives. An obedient strategy contains options – alternatives both as to the methods of achieving success and your definition of what success means in the first place. It is important to remember that once you achieve a minor success within the framework of your larger strategy, things, people, and even you change. This step in the formula reminds you to be mindful about where you are in your manifestation of triumph and prompts you to keep evaluating what you want to achieve.
4. Act with Assurance. A compelling strategy requires you to DO SOMETHING. Act. Execute. Run. Complete. Finish. If you want to be successful, you must keep moving forward instead of waiting for things to be perfect, the stars to align, or heaven-sent message to arrive. Your success and your dreams are too important to be left to luck and the whims of others. Keep the pressure on yourself to DO SOMETHING everyday to move you in the direction of your dreams. Sometimes the path forward will entail baby steps. Other times you might run. And, if you fall, pick yourself back up and keep moving again. As Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
5. Arm Yourself to Ad-Lib. An effective strategy includes constant monitoring, reflection, response, and readjustment. You will be interacting with the outside world and the outside world is going to deal your circumstances that you might not have previously considered. Part of your preparation is to furnish yourself with a toolkit of improvisational options so that you can make the best split-second success decisions possible. Some would like to tell you that we live in a spontaneous world. But that’s not entirely true. Because there are patterns you can prepare yourself for. And, most importantly, keep reminding yourself that, no matter what happens or seems to come about, your primary goal is to keep moving forward (see Step 4). You can easily acknowledge what is happening external to yourself and then just as quickly aim the future chain of events in the direction of your dreams (see Step 2).
All of these steps are intended to be used as a blend of activities rather than a chronological order of events. Take some time to truly understand the intent behind these 5 powerful steps and you will be prepared to find your own acorns by choice rather than chance.
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