One of my favorite quotes states that "no plan survives first contact with the enemy." I've learned this reality time and time again as a former Navy SEAL and now as an entrepreneur of ten years. Mike Tyson also put it well when he said, "Everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the face."
Regular planning is critical for running a business but I find that preparedness and persistence is even more important than the best possible business plan. In the SEAL teams you spend far more time training and preparing for missions than you do actually planning them. Clear contingency plans were imperative for mission success. Because when bullets start flying even the best plans will need to be adjusted. Persistence wins gunfights more than plans do.
Here are four reasons that being persistent and well-prepared to tackle life's many obstacles is more important than trying to manage things out of your control.
Things don't usually go as planned. So be ready when the inevitable roadblocks stand in your way. Whether you are an entrepreneur growing a start-up or a team member at a large corporation, you've probably noticed that plans can change, and change often. But a company has to be well-structured in order to remain strong as well as dynamic.
Good leaders must remain focused on what lays ahead in order to foresee potential obstacles and adjust accordingly. Experiencing failures along your path to success doesn't mean you failed. Failing occurs when you let those experiences cause you to quit.
Planning doesn't ensure adaptability. In the Teams while doing combat dive training we had a saying, "Plan your dive, and dive your plan." Things can get confusing underwater in pitch blackness but when you start second guessing yourself, it can snowball out of control. That said, good old fashion common sense is also a great standby when your plan starts falling apart.
For companies to be dynamic and adapt to internal or external forces pushing against them, they must have nimble leadership, healthy financials, and a team with a shared sense of purpose.
Planning doesn't identify unknowns. Persistence and tenacity is what makes businesses successful. Character is built during the third and fourth attempts at achieving a goal. Not the first try. In business, there are always many things out of your control such as the economy or your customer's financial situations. But that's no reason to freak out and make kneejerk decisions. You simply have to stay positive and keep moving.
A great quote about persistence comes not surprisingly from Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, "If you can't fly you run, if you can't run you walk, if you can't walk you crawl. But no matter what, you keep moving forward."
Good plans are worthless without execution. And flawless execution takes practice. You can spend all the time in the world developing great plans for your business but if you don't have the ability to execute on those plans you'll fail. There also has to be buy-in across the board for companies to be effective at hitting their goals.
Never discount the importance of having a great plan and even better contingency plans. But keep in mind that if you invest proper time to ensure you have the ability to adapt as needed, it won't feel like you're trying to steer a cruise ship when an iceberg lays in your path.