It’s a Saturday afternoon postgame interview with the losing head coach of a college football team. The scene is almost always one of these three:
Scene one. “It was a hard fought and competitive game between two good football teams. Sometimes the ball bounces in your favor but like today, sometimes it doesn’t. We will keep our heads high and prepare for next week.”
Scene two. “Don’t look at the players. Don’t even look at my coaching staff. Look at me. I own this loss. I did not prepare this team for today’s game. Hey, when it’s my fault; it’s my fault. It won’t happen again.”
Scene three. “It was not a good day. The team was properly prepared. We had a solid game plan. We were not competitive because we simply did not execute. We demonstrated a lack of character and discipline today. Each member of this team will need to look deep inside to see where we go from here.”
What’s the most common scene? The college football scenarios above don’t stray much from real life. Sometimes you prepare, you execute, but the ball bounces out of your hands – so to speak. It happens and that’s just the way life can go at times. Can’t you hear your fans moan in unison as the ball hits the ground and the game is lost? Both you and I know the first example is the exception rather than the rule. The truth in leadership is that “the harder you work the luckier you get.” You’ve heard that phrase before. It’s popular and its been claimed by many. I don’t like the word “harder” and I don’t like the word “luckier” but I do believe that life tends to smile more on those who work diligently to prepare a good plan and have the discipline to follow-through.
Too many leaders today have stopped planning. They lead by intuition and rote level thinking. They live in the tyranny of the urgent. They’ve been doing what they’ve been doing for so long they follow the subconscious path of mediocrity. For one reason or another, they simply don’t believe in planning and reflection.
Who would admit such a thing out loud? Not many. How do I know? By observing the way mediocrity lives and works – by observing a concept we can call leading-self. Mediocrity’s plan is called survival. Many lead this life with survival thinking which never goes beyond this thought: “If I can just ____________!” You fill in the blank. Maybe you filled in the blank with some of these phrases or ideas:
- Make more money
- Get a better job
- Find that right person
- Win the lottery
- Move away
So, what is the most common scene in that post-game interview? The most common scene in the life of leaders is a lack of strategy, a winning game plan. Most often when the right game plan is constructed it builds a sense of focus, energy, and commitment to execute the details. Plans that don’t inspire don’t inspire. That’s not a typo. Plans that don’t inspire will not be followed!
There is a better way. It’s not just the whirlwind of leadership that causes us to stop creating a game plan; it’s also because we’ve never learned how to create one that works. Don’t be embarrassed about it because I can tell you that very few leaders now how. I didn’t. It has taken me decades to create and refine a playbook process that works for all temperaments and contexts.
I started learning about strategic thinking and planning as a young business banker. My university exposed me to the idea but it seemed too cumbersome. Some of my customers could explain their business model and their strategy but most could not.
Through the years I’ve invested personal and company finances trying to improve my strategic planning and execution skills. Each learning experience was profitable but seemed to be geared to one temperament type or another.
Some philosophies of planning lacked soul. They seemed hollow and robotic. The skills taught were so pragmatic I felt like I was being transformed into a machine; they lacked any sense of meaning and purpose. Others were so full of lofty ideas I felt like I was floating on clouds completely out-of-touch with realty. At some point, one’s vision needs to grow legs and start walking!
Don’t get me wrong, there was something to appreciate about all the lessons, training, and coaching. I took these experiences and dedicated myself to find a better way. I envisioned a process that included meaning and yet was practical and useful for all temperaments. I won’t bore you with the journey details but I will describe enough of what we are doing today to hopefully spark your interest.
I can some up the planning and evaluation process of our leader’s playbook with one word: alignment. When our inner life and our outer life are aligned, we are healthier people. We are faster but not hurried. We are less distracted. We have made the difficult choices of what is best and what is less. We will be more efficient and certainly more effective.
Aligning deeply held values to a life-vision and purpose is difficult but rewarding work. It sets the table for our true goals and informs our calendar with wise planning. After all, next to our core relationships, time is our most important asset while here on earth.
Satisfaction. That’s a good word to describe how I feel when I see a new friend, team, or organization learn how to create and execute a strong playbook.
By the way, when finished, a playbook is one page. That’s right, a one page strategic plan! It describes your direction, your values, goals, and habits. It’s a dynamic tool that helps you cultivate both significant meaning and practical results.
Take action. The next step is to learn more about the playbook coaching process. Your life is worth thinking about. It’s worth planning and it should be fun too. To learn more, shoot off an email to email@example.com or go to our website at www.lead-today.net.
We can help you develop a plan worthy of your life or business. We can help you execute your plan. We would love your post-game interview to be about the joy of victory instead of defeat!