Why Strategy Is Useless Without This The Need To Clarify Direction First5 min read

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n his classic best seller book, "Good To Great", Jim Collins shares a powerful metaphor of a bush. He says that great companies or great CEOs are like drivers of a bus. For them to be successful, the following order of events must ensue (that is if I remember correctly).

  • First, pack the bus.
  • Second, determine the right seats in the bus
  • Third, determine the right people that will occupy the right seats in the bus
  • Fourth, start to move.

Where is Vision?

I agree with Jim but differ slightly when he says (I think I remember him saying that) that vision doesn't matter if you have the right people sitting in the right seats in the bus. Vision will ensue if those two ingredients are in place. His fellow author and one of my favorites on the subject of Leadership and Purpose, Simon Sinek has penned a best seller titled, "Start With Why".

Why Strategy Does't Work

We live in the day and age where every video peddled at you screams of one strategy or another. Some of these videos have been so choreographed to capture people's attention and let them see how "easy" it is to "make it in life". Some go as far as suggesting that the only thing you need is the strategy being sold to you.

For the record, I have no problem with people selling strategies for as long as the intention behind it is right. When someone is selling you a strategy:

  • Are they doing it to earn a buck or two from you? (Do they have a money back guarantee?)
  • Are they intent on pre-qualifying you to make sure that you are purchasing what you need?
  • Are they inherently telling you that you can circumvent laws and principles of success by just purchasing a strategy?

What if You Are Not Buying

Let's come to where the rubber meets the road. Being early on in the year, I am absolutely sure that many people are applying one strategy or another for their goals and resolutions. I am also sure that there could be some people whose strategies that they applied last year or so did not work and so they might be disillusioned. Let me say this: It is paramount that you and I have at least a strategy of sorts that we are using in life in order to progress.

It is Dwight Eishehower that famously said:

 "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable"

Advantages of Strategies

What this man implies is that you and I are not God. We have no clue how the environment will be when the actual war is taking place. When the battle is raging, it is easy to forget about the plans that you had. However, the very fact that you sat down to consider about what would take place gives you some psychological start to be prepared.

Listen to This Episode on Preparation:



Another great visionary that I have quoted over and over and over again is Abraham Lincoln. He said the following famously:

"If I am given six hours to chop down a tree, I would probably use four hours to sharpen my axe"

So I have to ask you a question: How sharp is your axe? How much time have you taken to prepare before you start chopping down your tree? This preparation is simply coming up wit a strategy that works. With a strategy:

  1. You are able to anticipate the setbacks and therefore prepare well in case they happen
  2. You know exactly what outputs to expect and when, therefore it is easy to track your progress
  3. You know exactly who does what and therefore you are able to dispatch great talent accordingly
  4. You are able to "dry run" the even or project thereby creating a much needed mental and at times physical blue print for achievement.
  5. You know exactly what needs to be done on a daily basis until the project is finished.

Bored People Lack Strategy

Next time someone complains to you that they are bored, chances are that they have absolutely no strategy that they are implementing in their lives. That's it. You will be amazed by how many people are using the same old regurgitated "strategies" that they used last year. If you want something to change in your life this year, the answer is found in the kind of strategy that you are employing. But wait a minute....

Strategies Alone Are Useless

Erick Hoffer gave us a very powerful quote that I believe we can use succinctly here as we talk about strategy. He said:

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Think about that for a minute. In other words, you can have all the bells an whistles of a strategy but it will still fail you. Why is that? I believe the main reason as to why strategies are useless is the fact that there is no clarity on the direction that you want to take.

The Greatest Tragedy

One of the greatest tragedies in the world is undecided people. People have no idea what they want from this life. Stop someone on their way from a helter skelter and ask them, "Hey, what do you want? What are you looking for in this life?" You will be amazed at how clueless people are. It is a shocker I tell you. And all along, they have all these strategies (whether they are theirs or someone else's) that they are applying in life.

Solution:

I need you to always be asking this question every time you are applying a strategy in life: Where Am I going with this? The author of Half Time puts it this way, "What Am I risking to lose with all the gaining that I am making?" That question will put your life in perspective. Think of the following things:

  • What are your values in life?
  • What is your Mission in life?
  • What is your Purpose in life?
  • Towards what end are you existing?

Go and get answers to these questions, and then create a strategy. Not the other way around.

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