Eisenhower On Planning

18 February 2013, by A. Cedilla

“In preparing for battle, I have found that planning is essential, but plans are useless.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower, 5-star general, 34th president of the United States

Planning ahead is extremely powerful, but you’ll often find that the better you get at realizing your plans, the more you realize that much of the plans you make get discarded. So what’s the point?

The planning prepares you for whatever may come. The process of preparation lets you be prepared — putting you in a state of readiness. Process is doing, state is being. You plan, you execute, and in the execution you adjust on the fly, moving with what happens in real-time –which is where most paper theories fly out the window.

Planning isn’t doing. Doing is doing.

As an offhand example, let’s say you do regular cardio (running) to get and stay healthier. Short-term and mid-term benefits: as long as you keep at it, you’re acting to preserve your health, strengthen your heart, bones and joints, and feel in charge of this part your life.

The possibility that you may have to run to save someone from getting hit by a card, or run to save your own life, is a remote one –it’s rare to find anyone who seriously trains for that— but the slim chance is still there, and if it does happen… well, won’t you be glad you were ready and fit enough to do so?

Mental planning is visualization on a multi-layered scale, with a definite time-line, and short, mid- and long-terms goals. It also covers identifying resources, key people to tap, allocating labor, time-blocks and financial assets.

  • It is what-ifs.
  • And if-thens.
  • And when-thens.
  • Also what-about-this and what-about-that.
  • Throwing in the occasional what-the-hells and oh-no-you-don’ts.
  • Also a few hell-no’s and what-do-we-have-to-do-about-those.
  • You also get plans B, C and D, an so on, each with various subsets….

Physical preparation consists in action.

  • You clear out things to make space for something new to come in, or to leave some more room to grow. You carry out your plans.
  • You cut through red tape, or inch through bureaucratic paper-pushing. You go and find out what’s happening. Then you act on the information you find.
  • You dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
  • You move, you act, and finish things to pave way for other things to happen smoothly. You link your actions.
  • You commit to doing these things because they are worthy endeavors, and your goals are that important to you.

Physical actions commit to to progression. You act to move things along. You make things happen.

Theories have their place, of course. Finding out if theories can be proven or not expands your sphere of knowledge. Finding is an action. ACTION is the key ingredient.

Of course you also have other avenues for learning –books, videos, mentors, other people’s mistakes, but there are things you learn only by doing. Things you learn only by going through these things. Just as an example — do you remember any resolutions you made at the start of the year?
And have they been, ahem, ‘resolved’?

Checkout the definition of the word ‘resolve

  • To solve.
  • To find a solution.
  • To make a firm decision.

You make plans, yes, but those things are references, like maps you carry around of the subway until you learn your way around. You learn by doing things and moving around, you check by referring to your ‘map. The map isn’t the terrain. Ask any native of the places you want to visit. Book learning isn’t the same thing as experience. You want to find a place, you find the place. You want to find your place in the world, you make your way to that place, or make your own.

Planning is a reference, and a mind-clearing activity. You have certain tasks to cross off. For example, “In the first quarter of the year, I have to ______” and then you list down all the things that need attending to withing the first 90 days of the year.

Preparation is committing to a series of activities — preferably layered or linked ones, like in Seinfeld’s chain, where finishing one activity leaves you open and ready for the next one, all linked in time towards accomplishing a goal

Goals need to be broken down into concrete activities to help realize those goals. Without those steps, all you have are castles in the air, with no way to get to them. Sure, they look cool, but what about you?

So make your plans, but remember that that they don’t mean the be-all and end-all of things. You’re still in charge, and you decide what to do with what happens next.

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