At the ushering in of the New Year, fireworks light up the blue and echo in the distance. The revitalizing scent of change garnishes the atmosphere like the fragrance after the rain. For Ernest Hemingway and those who seek the change of self-improvement, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Per contra, for the classicists, the naïve frogs in a well, and the self defeating narcissists, there has never been, there isn’t, and there never will be a need for self-improvement. The sluggards desire self-improvement but expect to reap its bounties from “New Year New Me” social media statuses. By failing to plan, they plan to fail. Next are the paper tigers, whose goal for 2015 is to accomplish those for 2014, which they should have executed in 2013 because they made a promise to themselves in 2012, and planned in 2011. These folks have million dollar plans and nickel executions, they are all foam no beer, all bark no bite. Next in line are the pusillanimous one-hit wonders, who plan well, execute somewhat, but crumble when little or nothing goes to plan. But, for the perennial champions, planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal. These malleable all weather warriors plan well, execute, adapt to challenges and sustain success. They are evergreen winners and hard-nosed clutch conquerors who are as consistent as the sunrise.
In the words of J.P. Morgan, a renowned American financier and philanthropist, “The wise man bridges the gap by laying out the path by means of which he can get from where his is to where he wants to go.” On the contrary, the foolish man plans poorly or does not plan at all; his house is built upon the sand and it will crumble when the rain falls. The wise man’s plan is positive, aggressive, realistic, specific, and systematic. Also, it’s dynamic, it specifies what he intends to execute and achieve, not what he intends to desist from doing. For instance, it states, “I shall always be 10 minutes ahead of schedule,” not, “I shall not be late.” The wise man realizes that the journey of self-improvement is that of a thousand miles; thus, he paces himself by compartmentalizing his strategy into a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly plan etc, or process, achievement, and ultimate goals. Process goals are administrative, such as documenting one’s plan. Achievement goals are milestones during the self-improvement journey, such as managing to consistently be 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Ultimate goals represent an element of finality and a broader vision. One example would be graduating with a doctorate in a specific number of years. With regards to specificity and aggression, the wise man’s plan has clarity and high standards. For instance, his annual blog count, sales or GPA achievement goal will be a specific value, one which is personally attainable and most challenging to achieve.
For perennial champions, planning without execution is hallucination. In principle, their staggering consistency in execution stems from a clarity in strategy or plan, a means of tracking and measuring their progress, and a means of accountability or adjustment to possible outcomes. In addition, they are as ruthless as a black mamba in their pursuit of success. Their drive, discipline, tenacity, and ambition are second to none. Defeat is one word these all weather warriors don’t use, for “they run when they can’t fly, they walk when they can’t run, they crawl when they can’t walk,” and do everything humanly possible to stay right at it. Like the great Michael Jordan, they may miss over 9000 shots, lose almost 300 games, miss 26 game winning shots, but they never quit because they know that faint heart never won fair lady. These clutch warriors measure twice but cut once, and in the words of one George Bernard Shaw, they know that if they cannot change their minds, they cannot change anything. Unlike the sticks in the mud stuck in their ways, slothful idle loiterers who are lazy to plan, paper tigers, and one-trick ponies, evergreen conquerors make the most of themselves, for they know, that is all there is of them.