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"Plans are nothing: planning is everything."

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Feb 8, 2010 1:57:00 PM

K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!

Plans are nothing; planning is everything...Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Normandy Landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944, were the largest amphibious invasion in history. Dwight D. Eisenhower had planned the invasion, and had been arguing for it ever since America got into the war after Pearl Harbor. Most British military commanders thought it was too risky. Winston Churchill was particularly nervous about the idea of invading France.

But Eisenhower finally won the argument, and the Allies built dozens of airfields in Great Britain, stockpiled millions of tons of weapons and supplies, built tent cities along the ports of the English Channel where tens of thousands of soldiers would live.

June 6, 1944, was a foggy morning. Sometime after dawn, the English Channel was full of ships—a huge armada—1,200 fighting ships, 10,000 planes, more than 150,000 troops, a little more than half of them American. The plan was to bomb the beach to create craters in the sand for foxholes, and then send the ground troops up the beach.

The most important thing that I have ever done for myself professionally, and for the thousands of people who I have coached…is to develop a 6-Step Planning Process that I call: Thinking Big, Focused and Organized.

Step 1: Vision/Mission/Purpose
Where do you see yourself? Think as big as possible. Build a ‘first draft’ version. It doesn’t have to be faultless. In this case, “Done!” is better than “Perfect!” Remember, the purpose follows from the vision. Purpose is the answer to the question, “Why do you want to achieve your vision?” Purpose provides motivation and inspiration.

Step 2: What’s Your Plan?
In devising your plan, I would suggest only one thing, K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Sweetheart! Trust your instincts. You do the rest!

Step 3: Goals
Your goals are synonymous with your objectives and/or priorities. Write them down. Don’t think it…Ink it! They should be S.M.A.R.T. goals that you keep visible for consistent, high-level motivation, i.e. Smart, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Trackable with Time-Frames. As said before, they don’t have to be perfect…a first-draft is acceptable. However, they DO have to be in your plain sight. Out of sight is out of mind. (I know one advisor who seals his goals in plastic and posts them in his shower!) Divide your goals into three time-frames: Short, Intermediate, and Long-term. Finally, your goals can be a ‘stretch’ but they must be realistic. Goals that aren’t realistic are de-motivating.

Step 4: Next Steps.
Visualize the first steps. The next steps may not be obvious. I would liken this to taking a cross-country road trip at night. You won’t be able to see the distance entirely coast-to-coast, but you will be able to see the distance of your headlights. This is all that’s needed. The Next Steps will take you to the next logical place.

Step 5: Organize
Get on top of each day, and each week. (Plan your work. Work your Plan) Start each day completely focused and ready-to-go. Identify your top time-wasters and all those things that interrupt, distract, and divert you from your plan. For a good reference book on organizing your day, I highly recommend David Allen’s, “Getting Things Done Fast.”

Step 6: Be Accountable
Do what you say you will do. Establish a process, or someone, to be accountable to. If necessary, find a coach who will encourage you, and will help you accomplish what you intended and decided to do.

When the troops reached the shore, they saw that the bombers had missed all of their targets. There was no protection on the beach. The landing craft were hit by a barrage of bullets. In less than a half an hour, more than two-thirds of the first company to reach the shore was killed. At first, the American commanders thought that the invasion had failed, but the first troops made some progress, and the second wave came in and slowly took over the fortified positions above the beach. By nightfall, more than 150,000 Allied troops had landed in France. 

The Germans had tank divisions that could have driven the Allies back into the sea, but they got conflicting orders from the high command and didn't start to attack until late in the afternoon, almost ten hours after the invasion had started. The German commander said at the time, "If we don't succeed in throwing the Allies into the sea, we will have lost the war." The German tanks got to within three miles of the shore and then were driven back by Allied tanks and anti-tank guns, and no German unit ever again got so close to the beaches. Many historians saw that as the turning point of the war.

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Topics: Organizing Priorities, Planning