“Anyone can steer the ship but it takes a leader to chart the course.” – J.C. Maxwell
I like the fact that I have the same first initials of one of my favorite authors. 🙂
So… Here’s a situation for you. Let’s say that you are at the helm of a yacht setting out from California and you’re on your way to a great getaway location in the Caribbean. You’ve been told that this place is the best place that you could ever be based on a conversation with a best friend that is on the yacht with you. The catch is that this particular place has a festival that is only going on long enough for you to barely make the last couple of days of it. Now you realize that to get to this location, you have to pass by several places that you wanted to check out including the coast of Mexico, the Panama Canal, and the Gulf Coast. Your destination sounds great and it’s the best time of the year to go, but you’ve personally always wanted to check out each of these places. You’d rather do all of it, but you have limited time. You would have more time to see everything but you know if you spend time elsewhere, you won’t make the festival. Which would you do? Would you check out the other destinations or try and make it to the festival?
Logic should say that you can go to the festival first and as you sail back, if you had time, you could check out the other destinations in reverse. I ask this question because it is very relative in how you live your life. How do you make decisions in your life? Do you generally make decisions on emotion or by logic?
Logic can be defined as the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Or, to put it into context, it’s the process of thinking about what you (or your organization) really want in the future and determining if your past actions and short term goals will get you there.
Naturally, everyone wants to make decisions based on emotion. We all want to do what makes us feel good. There’s nothing wrong with that. We simply can’t stop making emotional decisions because we, as humans, are indeed emotional. But sometimes if we make decisions without following a course, then we might miss bigger and better things. Sometimes we have to miss out on things right now to get to all the destinations. Sometimes we have to make decisions with logic and planning so that we can get the better rewards. We have to put off the good for the great.
If you’re not familiar with charting a course for your decision making, then here’s a strategic way for you to do just that.
The Secret to Navigating: PLAN AHEAD
The secret to navigating really isn’t too far out there. Yes, you have to “Plan Ahead”, but what does that mean? Well it just so happens that this is actually an acronym:
P – Predetermine a course of action: If you’re going to climb a ladder, make sure you’re climbing one that’s on the building you want to get to the top of. In the yacht trip example, we determine that we want to go to the Caribbean for the festival.
L – Lay Out your goals: Determine what you really want to accomplish. Which are initial higher priorities? Do you have time to make it to the different coast lines or do you have to go straight to the festival?
A – Adjust your priorities: Are your priorities correct? If they aren’t change them according to what you’ve heard, seen, and past experiences. You realize that if you want to make the festival, you have to set sail directly for it.
N – Notify key personel: Have a meeting with those in your life or organization that your decision directly affects. On the yacht, it would probably be a good choice to tell your friend who was wanting to go to the festival that you are indeed going there. If there’s anyone else on board that should know right away, tell them.
A – Allow time for acceptance of any changes: This part takes patience. In change management, we realize that the transition phase is going to be the longest part of change. There are three parts of the transition and should be done in three separate meetings. 1.) Announce the idea; 2.) Expand the ideas through determining the Pros and Cons with others; 3.) Summarize the plan with the people who helped determine it…
H – Head into Action: Most leaders want to start here without planning before hand. More often than not, this is a bad idea. Just because the Nike slogan is Just Do It! doesn’t mean that everyone should just start working out without consulting a physician first. Or in the yacht example, we want to make sure that everyone knows where we’re going before we go!
E – Expect Problems: Build in wiggle room. Again no one is perfect and perfection shouldn’t be expected of anyone – not even yourself. Even with the best thought out plan, we can’t control everything. In the yacht example, we might run into a storm on the way there or the engine might fail.
A – Always Point at Success: Be reassuring when needed. Make sure you remind yourself or the people you’re with of overcoming a challenge that was similar in magnitude. In the yacht example, talk about stories of the past in where you had to make a similar decision where you made it just in time to deliver a passenger on time for their flight.
D – Daily review your plan: Reflect on how things are going by thinking about three things: 1.) Review the goal 2.) Review the current situation and external forces 3.) Review the people involved – are they all ok? On the yacht trip: remember why you’re bypassing other destinations, check the weather and the condition of the boat, and make sure you’re keeping moral high if there’s any problems with the other passengers.
Now that you have a plan for your planning, make it a habit to make logical decisions in your life based on what you want in 5 to 10 years from now!!