Rethinking “Ready, Fire, Aim.”

Here are a few questions for you:

  • Did you make decisions about what exactly are your hard targets to accomplish this year in advance, or do you often resort to planning on the fly?
  • Do you go through how a plan — in its entirety, stage by stage– will align with your goals before you push through with it?
  • Do you track the results of your plans, whether they’re marketing campaigns or productivity schedules?
  • Do you track any changes you make to your plans when you encounter issues that make these changes necessary?
  • Over the course of the past year, did you feel that you were getting better at looking ahead (forecasting) and  mentally preparing (visualizing) for the things  coming your way?
  • How good would you say you are at visualizing and preparing for execution and assessment?


The popular advice when it comes to executing plans is, “Ready, fire, aim.”

The belief  behind this advice says that speed is essential, time is precious, and each miss gets you closer to the goal.  The caveat asks you to dig deeper at the supporting structure behind this set-up and see how it applies to you in the field, not in theory.

There are tons of advice out there for entrepreneurs. But you need to be sharp about which advice is reliably useful to you and the issues you encounter.  Personalization, in this case, also applies to you, and not just your customers: Take what you can use and leave the rest.

“Ready, fire, aim,” may not  fit the way you choose to work. It can conflict with your personality, or your chosen methods, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What works for you, works. As long as you focus on staying on-target, you’ll be good.

Other considerations.
What is your budget, say, for ‘misses’? Not just in financial terms, but in labor and time, too?  How close do you need to be to the goal to count the attempt as a hit or a miss?

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
Bruce Lee

The seductive lures of “optimization” and “maximizing” leads to unrealistic goals of making perfect shots, each time, all the time. Even experienced people can fall into that fantasy. One counter-agent is to filter out  the distractions, focus on what you can influence,  and prepare for what you can’t. This is much easier on the nerves, and keeps you grounded.

Practice Makes Better.
And consistent practice can be better than perfect. Perfection is static, but practice makes refinement an ongoing process, and that’s an opening to a more meaningful life. When you are focused on getting better, peaks and plateaus are part of the journey, and not rest-stops. You keep growing. You keep finding out new things. You don’t stagnate.

Honing your gut.
Training yourself to keep records and to pay attention is like a medical internship — the more you do it, the better and faster you can get a pulse or develop a feeling for the health of your business. You  learn  to keep an eye out for  the subtle details that matter, and get to spot issues before they blow up. For worst-case scenarios, you already have a recovery plan in place because you anticipate and prepare.

Looking Ahead.
One of the hardest parts in running your own business is developing the mindset and visualization focus necessary to run it well. It’s not just planning things out, but being able to realistically see what needs to be done in a particular situation to get a specific outcome, and being able to exercise flexibility in applying a solution. Being able to do so means more than just  picking out the appropriate choice. It also means being better able to predict what changes you might require or want even before you take the first step.

Like chess, this gut feeling differs on how far in you are along the journey, and how much you take in, either on the job, or by studying. Beginners can see a few moves ahead, grandmasters can calculate more.

Learning and Communication.
There are hundreds of business and entrepreneurial forums where people look for answers and ask for help regarding developing their visualization and execution skills. Often, you can read post upon post from people sharing how challenging it was for them to reconcile the decisions they’re making to the results they see forming.

And, in a very real way, developing this skill is as much science as it is gut and determination to succeed. What you need is a clear, simple process that will get you to thinking about your goals (projects) in terms of alignment and measurement from the start. And for that you need something that combines both records and best-practices.

This means you have to write, and you have to store what you write in records.

  • Write it out is like creating a back-up brain, one that you can share.
  • Writing it out fosters a robust mind-concept connection and  strengthens creativity-memory links.
  • Writing ‘about’ stuff helps you conceptualize and visualize better by teaching you to explain thing in clear, concise terms.

 

One of the most important skills you can foster is writing clearly, concisely, and coherently.  Records show history. If you don’t study history, you’ll–say it with me– be doomed to repeat it. And making the same or even same-ish mistake repeatedly and expecting a different outcome somehow is what?–say it again– a mark of insanity.

Writing doesn’t always mean writing for copy and content. Sometimes, people downplay their communication skills because they “don’t write too good.” Writing is simply another form of communication. If you can talk to another person and make yourself understood, if you’ve ever told a joke that made someone laugh for real, if you’ve ever had to reason out a big purchase and convince others to how reasonable your decision was, then you can communicate. You’re probably just more comfortable talking it out than writing it down.

Writing can help you remember and not have to start from scratch again, or make the same mistake. Even a written record of ‘failures’ can help to remind you what actions not to repeat. Brainstorming (‘concept art’, wild ideas, ‘just doodling’) documentation (operations manuals, technical designs), financial records (for audits and taxes) — keeping records helps build up your business resources and are powerful aids in refining your  visualization, planning and execution skills.  Keeping a regular visualization practice and making good notes will certainly help you make this year’s performance better.

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