We talk a lot about planning, and have probably all heard the oft quoted “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. But what is it about planning that makes it so valuable in achieving success and, as Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “indispensable in preparation”?
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” — Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower
While “Ike” may have found plans useless, I’d like to share three aspects of planning that I believe make it indispensable both in preparation and to success.
Values – Values are those things we hold dear. They are what animate our lives and motivate us to action. Without identifying, knowing and clarifying our values we tend to drift. Like the saying “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, it is what we stand for. Values are at the core of our belief system, our character and the basis of our integrity.
Unlike somethings, values are not absolutes, but can and do change over time. As we gain experience and learn more about the world our values may be strengthened, weakened, or replaced entirely. They are based on our choices – if we value happiness, then we choose to be happy, if we value family time, we may choose not to take a promotion that will require more travel. Whatever we value, we choose, we take actions that support that value. It is from our values that our choices are made and our actions are animated.
Vision – Vision is best defined, in this context, as “a picture of a future success”. John F Kennedy laid out a clear vision for the future when he proclaimed before congress “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” It engages the heart and spirit, and gives meaning to the effort required.
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill
Vision is what we see in our minds eye. The clearer the image, the greater the probability of it becoming reality. Napoleon Hill the author of “Think and Grow Rich”, as well as others are attributed with repeating and demonstrating the truth behind the saying “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Walt Disney famously named his engineering and creative staff, “imagineers”. Believing that their greatness was in their imagination, or the ability to conceive and believe new possibilities within their mind. In other words, it was their vision of what could be that created the reality of what is Disney.
Mission – Mission is a clear statement of why you are doing what you are doing. The why usually incorporates the core values that motivate and animate our action towards a mental picture of some future success. It is usually, a brief statement that reflects the core values and communicates long term objectives.
Organizations and individuals may routinely formalize a mission in a written statement. A personal mission statement is a brief but powerful statement of why, what, and how a vision will be expressed. When written well it communicates to others what your values and vision are. It provides guidance for organizing resources and executing goals to make that vision a reality.
Stuff happens, priorities change, and new insights emerge that plans do not account for.
Planning is indispensable in the achieving your vision because it engages the heart and spirit, and gives meaning to the effort. Plans are useless because they are static, impersonal representations of what happened during planning. Stuff happens, priorities change, and new insights emerge that plans do not account for. Planning on the other hand, should be an ongoing evaluation of Values, Vision, and Mission. In this way we can perpetually align our planning with what we know of the world around us. Thereby, planning is a continuous process of improvement that will engage, inspire, and give meaning to all that we participate in.
Armed with these three clearly defined elements of planning, values, vision, and mission, you are prepared to begin moving forward with confidence to achieve your full potential.
How do you plan? What are your thoughts on Values, Vision, and Mission with regard to planning and success? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
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