How Setting Your Course Can Spare You In The Long Run

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

There is something to be said about the process of planning. It can provide clarity and vision to move forward. A plan may change, shrink, grow, come to life, or be eliminated along the journey, but the perspective you gain in the planning process will be a constant. You can return to it through the ups and downs of the path ahead. Overlooking the importance of planning can lead to some pretty epic failures in business and most importantly, in life. However, embracing the process by taking the time to map your course can prove to be the gateway for some legendary successes in your story.

Swissair’s Downfall

Swissair is good example of how a lack of financial planning led to the airline’s doom. Swissair was once known as the “Flying Bank” because it was so financially stable. They set out to expand the company, but after implementing a controversial strategy and ultimately over-expanding, they encountered a fatal future. Swissair’s demise was largely due to the horrific financial strategy, spending over two times its acquired revenue in order to “save” the spiraling airline. And we’re talking on the side of billions of dollars. The airline’s financial management team was dismissed due to their grossly negligent strategy, but there was little to no hope for recovery by then. The poor financial planning weakened the stability of the airline so much that by the time 9/11 hit, they would never recover their losses. Their purpose to grow was lost in the lack of financial strategy.

Heinz Food Company’s Success

On the contrary, Henry Heinz, regrouped after his first canned goods endeavor went bankrupt. Upon pinpointing where he went wrong the first time around, he planned differently as he launched Heinz Food Company. This time he specifically targeted the development of his business around the quality of the product. He concluded that, in order to achieve the highest quality in his products, Heinz Food Company had to have control of the entire process from seed to sale. He devised a plan, and it started with purchasing the farmland needed to grow the produce. Of course, Heinz faced many obstacles along the path to the legendary success the company is today, but when he set his course to achieve quality in all of his products, he marked his path to success. Heinz is still known today for its quality products.

The “Wins” of Planning

What am I getting at with these stories? Planning helps you clearly define a path. Having a plan that represents your true purpose whether it be in life or in specific endeavor, will allow you to steady the course when the waters get rough and challenges come. So, it is worth spending some time to plan your journey. Of course, like every plan there will be rerouting along the way, but the important thing is that you have defined where your focus lies and what you are working towards.

Having a plan does three things for us:

  1. It gives us a path to start down. Sometimes we need a plan just in order to get started. In my book, Step, I write about the fact that we may not be able to figure out every single step in the process. But if we can figure out the first few steps we can start moving.

  2. It gives us something to edit. It’s always easier to edit than it is to create. There’s almost a 100% chance that your plan will need to be edited, but you can’t edit something that doesn’t exist. Don’t focus on a perfect plan or you’ll never get started. Focus on creating something with the understanding that it will get edited.

  3. It gives us something to communicate. Having a plan gives us something we can communicate to others. When you share your plan with those you want to join you, those you want advice from, or those who are closest to you, you’ll get feedback to make that plan better. If we don’t have a plan, we won’t know how to communicate what we’re trying to do, and will in turn confuse those around us. Our little secret: I’ll often share a plan with my team that I know isn’t fully baked, because I know they’ll help me bake it!

Take a few minutes today to create a plan and then start working that plan.

Chris CapehartComment