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Ideation Process / Episode Three: Putting the Plan into Action

A plan in action rarely stays the same.

The minute we step into executing our idea (putting it into action), we simultaneously begin considering and assessing our first few steps.

  • Was this the right idea?
  • Am I doing it “right”? What does “right” even look like?
  • Does the effort and behavior make sense?
  • Is there buy-in, and why? Push back, and why?
  • How would I qualify my response to what’s going on?
  • Are my motives the same?
  • Are others benefitting?
  • Am I getting better? Or worse?
  • What needs to stop, what needs to change, and what do I need to keep doing?
  • If it’s going well, at least at first, am I making note of what’s working?
  • If it’s not, at first, am I pivoting and tweaking my next steps?

Ideas in action. According to plan. And then after you get started, does the plan really stay the same?

Making a pivot in your business plan on two yellow sticky note paper on wood

The Power of Pivot. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme allied commander in World War Two and 34th President famously said, “Before a battle, planning is everything. Once the fighting has begun, it’s worthless.” He also said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Eisenhower was known as a master planner within his military career. His abilities to identify the vision, get the right people together to work it through, and then keeping them together and collaborating towards its execution is legendary. 

His view of the plan in action is one of realism. Even the best laid plans require change. Great at the beginning, problematic in their follow through. Not because they are bad, rather, because things change in the moment. Why? Because of the variables. The unexpected and uncertain. We get into our action, and very quickly begin to realize, what we thought would happen is not what we get. It’s in that ownership we see the power of the pivot. To keep the idea, and the vision of the desired outcome top of mind, while accepting that the means to achieve it will change. And then doing so.

Maybe a question to ask just after we start with all the unexpected…are we willing to stick with it?

Desire determines Dedication, and Dedication directs Discipline.

Very rarely does something pan out the way we want. Take going to the gym. We love the idea of going to the gym until we walk through the doors, and everything we thought goes out the door. Where do I start? Which station? Someone is camping at the station I want. What makes for good form? How many sets – how many reps? People here know what they are doing, and I don’t…YET. How will we pivot in that moment? Great intentions will only get us so far. It takes discipline to stick with it. It requires energy to create momentum and even more resolve to keep moving into the disruption and discomfort of growing solidified behavior…that’s different.

Bottom line, if our motives in the idea and plan are wholehearted, then any lack of knowledge will get filled in. Get started and try. Fail, learn, try again. Succeed, keep trying. Fail, pivot, keep moving forward. There is nothing we can’t do, once we get over the wall of impossibility in our mind. The secret…you don’t stop trying and never stop moving forward.

Be Water.

Martial Artist and Actor Bruce Lee said this about our ability to adjust to what comes our way. His wisdom…we should be formless, like water. That if we avoid having a rigid mindset, we will find our way around and through what is getting in the way.

The minute we start engaging in our plan is the exact moment we also need to start adjusting, adapting, and improvising our plan. Fostering a flexibility to move in the plan as water moves along a creek bed. With each rock or obstacle, it flows over, under, around, and sometimes through. It is simply adjusting the flow to keep moving forward. Following the same route and having the defined destination, all bodies of water adjust to the environment they are given.

The End Justifies the Means.

OK, being real, there is always a risk. That our view of what we are doing or the desired outcome is so intensely believed, that we may do anything to accomplish our goal. Which may mean doing something that goes against our values, does not align with fair, equitable or moral standards of others, or simply puts our needs way above the needs of others. The big question will be in that moment, can you live with breaking rules or losing righteousness to meet the desired end?

I get winning at all costs. That doesn’t make it the right thing to do. That’s the little tension in creating a legacy…between irresponsible achievement of the goal and responsible ownership of the vision.

Once You Start, Don’t Stop.

If I could only share one bit of advice regarding living out an idea, I would simply say don’t stop. Unless, it takes care of itself without any effort from you, or it shows itself as the wrong thing to do – for us or others. Otherwise, pivot in the moments when change is required. Add or subtract as needed. Keep building skill, muscle memory, and routine. And never stop getting after it.

At some point habit kicks in, and our discipline turns into devotion. More on that later.

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