“It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
I’ve seen this insight, and variations thereof, credited to a number of different people — probably because of the innate truth of the statement. And yet, how often do we as leaders get so hung up on developing our plans . . . to change the culture, to launch a new initiative, to pursue a strategic direction . . . that we never really get around to doing anything.
Now let me be clear, I am a big proponent of plans (as anyone who works with me can attest). According to Google, the definition of a plan is “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something; an intention or decision about what on is going to do.” The end result of the effort is to do, to act . . . not to create the perfect plan!
Have you ever had a plan thrust on you from some external source and thought the concept probably made a lot of sense to someone sitting in an office somewhere, but from a practical application standpoint it was not possible/made no sense/had numerous unintended consequences? Yep. What do you think the chances are that someone has ever had that thought about one of your well-crafted plans?
That is why it is better to view plans as fluid, living documents. Get a basic understanding of your end goal, get the project rolling, and then adapt as you get new information. Act your way into a new way of thinking. Because here’s the deal . . . there is no way to anticipate all of the variables you will encounter at the beginning of an initiative — no matter how much time and effort was put into developing the plan. Detailed plans may make us feel better . . . rigidly sticking to them, however, may actually diminish our results.
I can’t tell you how many times we have encountered totally unexpected opportunities because we acted, and then were willing to adapt our plan along the way. Hear me loud and clear, adapting a plan doesn’t mean the plan failed . . . it means the plan moved you to the point that you had new information with which to make a better decision.
Get clear on your end goal — your intent — and then yes, identify the best that you know at the time, along with the unknown but important variables, to develop a plan. Don’t expect it to be perfect. Expect it to be enough to start, to move you in the right direction. And then . . . it’s time to act.