Planning for the Inevitable

Planning for the Inevitable

“I spent thirty years getting ready for that decision that took thirty seconds.”  ~General James “Chaos” Mattis

Planning for the Inevitable

Wisdom can be found in the most unlikely of places. In the Amazon original series, The Man in the High Castle, a Japanese trade minister mystically remarks, “Fate is fluid. Destiny is in the hands of men.” In a Western mindset, we often think the words “fate” and “destiny” are interchangeable. This is not the case. In this context, destiny is the accrual of one’s efforts toward a specific goal. Few people see the years of preparation that go into becoming an overnight success. Fate is the collection of seemingly random occurrences that happen within one’s day. Bumping into someone who spills their coffee on you fifteen minutes before an important meeting is fate. In this situation, the person who focuses on destiny would have a change of clothes in their car—just in case. process.

The contrast between fate and destiny can be reframed as reactive versus proactive thinking. A reactive thinker manages the omnipresent chaos that plagues the everyday. A proactive thinker plays the “what if ” game to develop contingency strategies to overcome that chaos to achieve success. One might think this is preparing for failure. It is not. The facts are clear—successful people have a future orientation. A defensive driver imagines the future actions of other drivers based on observed behaviors and adjusts his or her driving accordingly. Foreseeing potential dangers doesn’t mean a defensive driver is planning to run of the road, but they are taking steps to ensure they arrive at their destination safely.

Planning for every little potential disaster isn’t possible either and is an exercise in paranoia and futility. With any project, identify the top five worst-case scenarios and develop a rough idea of how to overcome those obstacles or setbacks. Especially pay attention when you hear team members say, “Well, that will never happen.” Chances are “it” will happen but you’ll be ready to seize your destiny instead of being a victim of fate.

Consider this …

1. What are the major risks facing your current project, innovation, or business?

2. What is the likelihood of those risks coming to fruition?

3. What steps can you take to prevent those risks from happening, or to respond effectively to them when they do?

For more, check out The Top Performer’s Field Guide, The Innovator’s Field Guide, or visit www.JeffStandridge.com.

(Originally published in The Innovator’s Field Guide.)

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