Act – Learn – Adjust Because Perfect Plans Don’t Exist

It's time to Act -  Learn - Adjust! If you created a clear THERE, clear HERE and the PATH with a Personal Planning Form that is a great first step for getting things done. That plan is your initial thoughts on how to get THERE. Now, action is required for results.

THP helps you create a plan, but you need to execute the plan to see if your plan will work. We like to say that "Good plans degenerate into action at some point!" That's because the clarity of THERE and HERE creates energy to develop the PATH. Now that you see some initial actions to take – get started!

Act - Learn - Adjust

Action Is Required for Results

"The beginning is half of every action." – Greek proverb

Some people have the energy to experiment without much of a plan. Other people have the energy to create very robust plans before they take any action. The creative process believes in planning by using THERE, HERE and PATH.

If you want to create great plans and reduce risk, excellent! Just remember, planning is great, but action is required to get something done. Action is the only way to know if the plan works.

Some people plan and look for the “perfect” plan. That is a waste of time, because it doesn’t exist. Be careful and understand that plans bog down when looking for the “perfect” plan.

General Carl von Clausewitz has a great quote for you to memorize. He was the father of strategic planning in battle, so he believes very strongly in plans, but note what he says above.

No campaign plan survives the first contact with the enemy…It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.  General Carl von Clausewitz

So, plan, but move quickly to acting!

Iterative Actions and Adjustments

“Action without reflection is mindless” - Henry Mintzberg

The creative process is not a manufacturing process. Other people may have done what you are trying to do, but you probably haven’t. That means you are trying to create something new, at least for you.

While the creative process has the engine of THP, it is fueled by ALA once you start on the PATH. Because it is the creative process, you want to LEARN from each action as you execute.

  • ACT—Look at the result of the action
  • LEARN—Did it help? Did it hurt?
  • ADJUST—or act on the next step

Using ALA helps you…

  • ...gain knowledge and experience by taking action
  • ...see what does and doesn’t work
  • ...revise plans to fit the current situation
  • ...keep moving toward the Result—one Action at a time

ALA is very well illustrated by Abraham Lincoln in the following statement:

Focus on the Next Step

When President Lincoln was asked how he would approach postwar reunification he said, “I’m going to use the same system as the Mississippi riverboat captains.  They look out as far as they can see, which typically is just the first bend in the river, and they navigate to that point.  When they get to that point, more of the river opens up and they can navigate to the next point…That’s the only way I can see managing such a massive change: navigating from point to point.” – Harvard Management Update, July 2001

That is the essence of ALA, navigate from one action to the next, always keeping THERE in mind.

When Actions Aren't Working

Sometimes as you work toward your clearly defined THERE, you get off-track, even confused as to what you are doing. You may feel overwhelmed, like you are in a maze and can’t get out. That can happen when the actions are complex or just tiring. Your focus turns from THERE to the task or details that you are currently working on. If you aren't careful, you will no longer see beyond the current tasks and forget the reason you are doing them – THERE, your end result.

When that happens, you may need to assess yourself using HALT. That is a good acronym used in most 12 step programs which is appropriate for your work also. When you are working, be careful of the times that you are too...

  • H – hungry
  • A – angry
  • L – lonely
  • T – tired

And, sometimes, S is needed – sick. In those times, your focus turns from wants that are based on values and aspirations to wants that are driven from appetites, impulses and pleasures.

Those are the times to regroup with some rest and then refocus on THERE. That helps you get out of the maze and confusion, moving back into clarity. It also helps you identify your commitment to THERE.

Tools to Help You Act

Since you are committed to reach your THERE, I want to give you some tools that will help you continue to act until you reach THERE. Forms for numbers 1 and 2 are in the Appendix: Chapter 3 Forms.

Daily Focus Form: This is the form that I use the most, almost every work day. Hopefully the instructions are clear enough to follow. The first time you use the form, it will be more time consuming, because you will need to list your goals. For the first time, just identify the goals and some actions you would like to complete in the next 7 days. If you will not be working on one of your goals during the next 7 days, don't list anything in that column, but do list what you would like to accomplish in the Next 30 Days column.

After you get started, you will review this form every morning to identify the top 1-3 things you WILL DO that day. If you would like some more help, please email me. I have found using an electronic version, is much better for me.

Learn from the Past, Plan for the Future: This form can help you both with determining a THERE and identifying some obstacles you want to be aware of as you take actions on the PATH. It is an every-once-in-a-while document, not like the Daily Focus Form. Just follow the instructions to see what you can learn.

Accountability Partners: When you have Accountability Partners, you will get more done. Look at the research in the chart to the right. It shows the power of using an Accountability Partner. If you want to get something done, this is your tool, so please use it.

With ALA in your pocket, all you need is persistence!

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