This past Saturday night, the Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Michigan State Spartans in the first ever Big 10 championship game and secured a coveted spot to play in the Rose Bowl. If you’re not a college football fan, just trust me that this is a big deal for the team. This was not an easy win for the Badgers because the Spartans were just one of two teams they had lost to all season. The Badgers won the game by sticking to their game plan for the entire 60 minutes of play.
Do you stick to your game plan?
We defeat ourselves by bailing out of our game plan when we suspect it’s going bad. We start to improvise and shoot from the hip when we don’t have sufficient time to think things through. The Badgers didn’t do that Saturday night. They stuck to their game plan. Yes, they made adjustments throughout the game; but I suspect even those adjustments had been planned out before the game as contingencies.
Planning works. Planning pays off.
When you bail out of your game plan, you are most often defeating yourself; not being beaten by your opposition. When I look at my own business successes, the biggest and the sweetest are the result of well thought-out strategic plans.
Fly by the seat of your pants with a plan
On the other hand, when I look back at the not-so-successful points in my professional life, I notice an overwhelming lack of plans and/or a decision to deviate dramatically from the plan. In other words, I decided to improvise the game plan on the fly with no real empirical evidence that the plan needed changing. I defeated myself. Even when I do choose to fly by the seat of my pants, I do it with a plan in place. Plan for contingencies before you need those contingencies.
I try to start each week by assessing my to-do list left over from the previous week. Then each morning, I take a look at the to-do list and prioritize the three things that must get done to maintain forward momentum. It’s a small investment in time to make sure that I don’t spend all day reacting to the priorities of others. Instead, I’ve got my own game plan that comes first.