There is nothing wrong with wandering or staying in one place if that’s what you want to do. But if you wish to get somewhere you’ll need to have a good idea where you’re headed. You’ll need to draft a sound plan for getting there and have the ability to execute that plan, all while maintaining sufficient focus and self-discipline to stay on track. In order to do all this you must continually exercise your powers of observation and your ability to weather a changing climate. Here are some pointers for accomplishing this, as well as other vital ingredients essential to setting up your game and winning it:
1. Goals & Purposes
First and foremost is your destination. Kids enter college with no idea what they want to use an education for. I understand the concept of not wanting to be tied down, of drifting where the wind takes you. But if you’re going to invest in college, I’d recommend having some idea what you want to do with it. In any arena, whether it’s school, business or the playing field we call “life”, one should have a goal or destination. These are also called hopes, dreams, aspirations and ambitions. “Hope” is a great word but it’s also a dangerous word. It implies one has no say in the outcome. When you have a clear destination, as well as knowledge, insight and a strong will, you can move beyond mere “hope” and into the realm of tangible reality.
Your strategy is the foundation of your game plan. These are the broad strokes on the canvas, the lines that form the basic blueprint. After you have the basic outline you fill in the details. Major decisions will be based upon your strategy, such as whether you pursue further education, business capital, where and how to live, and many other points. Can you change the strategy? Certainly, but keep in the mind that the more you change it, the more likely it is that you’ll have to start over. For some, there is excitement in making a new start, while for others it is terrifying. Keep in mind that the best strategy is not necessarily the easy way. In fact, some of the most worthwhile endeavors are quite hard indeed. That said, taking the simple and direct route will often be the easiest and most effective in the end.
3. Find Out Why
Things don’t just happen. They are caused. Far too many people believe they are at the mercy of forces beyond their control. Assigning everything to “luck” or “fate” is useless. No matter what happens, look for what made it happen. You may not always locate it, but it is a far better mindset and operating pattern than relying on luck or taking zero responsibility. When you adopt a viewpoint that there are causes for things, you take a lot of the mystery out of your life. Direct observation (simply looking) is an excellent approach. Other times you must investigate. Staying on course requires astute observation – the ability to step outside, look and locate the truth.
4. Stay Alert to Change
Change is constant. Nothing stays the same. When you observe, look for changes. Some changes are internal, within yourself, your home, your business. Others are external: Laws, markets, shifting social tides. But just because they are exterior to you or your place of business, doesn’t mean you can’t act effectively. When you observe and investigate, when you look for WHY, look for what CHANGED. I recall a particular incident where a man was fired. He was kind of an ornery guy, didn’t care much for social niceties. He’d get his job done and wasn’t too concerned with who he offended in the process. Despite the fact that he did his job, he was let go. But nothing in his department improved after he was gone. In fact they worsened as I recall. He was brought back on and productivity resumed. He wasn’t the problem. It was other factors and when these were located, productivity surged even higher. The point: It isn’t always what you think.
I talk a lot about communication. Why? Because it is everything. All you’re doing starts and ends with communication. True, you can “talk endlessly” and it will hinder production. But you won’t accomplish anything worthwhile without competent handling of communication. When you are trying to stay on track, practice keeping your communication on a high plane. Communication – as regards getting your plan done – should be forthright, insightful, factual, efficient, productive, and it should enhance someone or something. Respect others’ communication and they are far more likely to respect yours. Hold meetings with your team members. Listen to what they have to say. Make sure they understand where the team is going and the strategy for getting there.
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing”
In order to stay on course, it is necessary to orient yourself towards production. The best way to do this is to keep track of statistics, numbers, metrics, etc. Set your priorities and measure your production numerically. Obviously there are things more important than numbers. If you make 1,000 telephones and they don’t ring, that is 1,000 useless telephones. So the numbers must represent real things. Keep yourself and your associates focused on production of the tangible, the useful, the valuable. That which is not material, such as ideas and words, are yet extremely powerful when delivered by competent hands and brilliant minds.
7. The Value of a Game
A “game plan” indicates that you are playing a game. You can turn anything into a game. Life itself is a game and should be played as such. When you make it a game, when it isn’t so “serious”, you’ll get a lot more done. A game is fun. Helping others is fun. Creating a better society is fun. A game that you are passionate about – that is also a source of fun – is the type of game you’re likely to stick with. Even when such a game gets tough, it is fulfilling for those playing it. You can take your struggle for survival, and no matter where you’re at, make it into a game. A game has a destination, an objective. It has barriers, opposition. And it has freedom in which to act and prosper. Life can be an exhilarating game on an infinite playing field. Make your life a game and have fun at it!