Planning vs. Action

Pinky-and-the-Brain_article_story_large Somebody once said “Action without planning is the cause of every failure”.  What about planning without action?  Doesn’t that cause failure as well? We would think so.

Let’s look at each of these: Being impulsive and jumping into action without planning is a fools game.  Rarely can you expect success with this habit on anything more complicated than making dinner.  Even then you’re usually best to follow a recipe.  And that’s the point isn’t it?  There really is a recipe for about every action that you need to take.  If you’re tempted to “wing it” on some important endeavor, do yourself a favor and slow down.  Think.  Make a plan based on facts and reasoning.  Develop options.  List pros and cons.  Play devil’s advocate with each option.  Only then start the action that leads to results.

However, getting bogged down in endless planning is an endless loop.  This is a recipe that never gets baked,  a wonderful plan always being edited,  a beautiful building never built.  If you find yourself always wanting to “get it right” or worse; “get it perfect”, you know how much you suffer.  You need to play horseshoes more.  You do get points for getting close for almost everything.  No car, machine, system, person, or program you have right now is perfect.  They are all flawed in some way but still functioning.  They can usually be improved but that may not be the best action.  New plans are put in place regularly with imperfections right from the beginning.  We sometimes call them compromises.  There are obvious exceptions to this but not many.

The truth is that each of us tend toward one of these two temptations.  Social Style predicts and explains this phenomena. Tell assertive people tend towards acting without planning.  Ask assertive folks tend towards the opposite.  Knowing what your style is helps you diagnose your actions and become more versatile.  Higher versatility is a proven way to succeed in all areas of life; work and home.  Becoming more versatile means adjusting your planning tempo to create better results.

So let’s look at how we can improve ourselves here. Let’s pick on the perfectionist first.  You already know this is making you miserable.  The pain that experienced (older and wiser) perfectionist feel is real.  Perfectionist over plan.  They neglect decision making because it’s impossible to have all the information needed to make a complete and proper decision.  So they fail to act and fail to make progress.  Just remember that you never can be perfect.  At some point, you need to launch.

As for you impulsive types, think about all the times you’ve failed because you didn’t check, learn, ask, research, and pause.  You can be so much more successful by creating tools like check lists and systems.  Think about ways you can fail.  If you can think of 3 ways your plan can fail, you’re off to a good start.  At least you see the perils.

Learn Social Style.  If you need some training or coaching on this, give me a call or email.  I can’t think of a better model for becoming more versatile in Planning and Action.  Bob R

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