That sounds like a plan

Oct. 30, 2020

The article in this issue by Polywater’s Sheri Dahlke about planning a cabling-installation project brought to mind some notable quotes about planning. Some of them are attributed and others are anonymous. One is: Plan your work and work your plan. Another, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is: Failing to plan is planning to fail. Then there’s: Proper planning prevents poor performance. I’m not so sure about that one, especially in light of what’s probably my favorite quote about planning. Former heavyweight boxing champion and current media icon Mike Tyson said, during his reign as champ: Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

I used that Tyson quote during a recent presentation I made to some of my corporate superiors about Cabling Installation & Maintenance’s goings-on in 2020 as well as plans for the future. Everyone had their plans for how this year was going to go, then the entire world got punched in the mouth. That’s why my presentation primarily focused on our ability to pivot according to changing (or forever changed) circumstances, while also making the case that we have a plan to thrive in the uncertain future. That reality makes me similar to, not different from, virtually everyone in our industry.

Speaking of the words “virtual” and “everyone in our industry,” I’m writing this editorial the week before BICSI’s virtual Fall Conference and Exhibition, the exhibition part of which is open to everyone at no cost. Preparing to attend this event reminded me of one of the keynote sessions from a long-ago BICSI conference. I remember seeing ahead of time that the keynoter would be former professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page, and wondered how many conference attendees would scoff or grumble at the notion that a pro wrestler would have anything insightful to offer. I was intrigued, partially because I had been a wrestling fan as a kid, before Page’s time on the circuit. His presentation’s theme was “living life at 90%” and was a takeoff on another famous quote: Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Page’s message was to maximize the 90%, the way you react to the circumstances you find yourself in. Those circumstances may or may not be of your own creation, and in a sense that doesn’t matter. That’s in the past. Take control of the 90%—the way you react to what has happened—and turn the future into the best it can be.

With all this in mind, do I think that adapting to circumstances is more important than planning? No, I don’t. I think they’re both important. Sure, Mike Tyson’s quote about getting punched in the mouth is a classic. But James “Buster” Douglas had a plan for his match against Tyson, and Douglas’s plan worked.

As usual, I like to have it both ways—the ability to plan, and the ability to adapt when that plan goes awry. Having either one but not the other is a recipe for tough times. Having both provides the opportunity to get through those tough times. Certainly, following the advice of both a professional wrestler and a founding father is an eclectic mix. But this is 2020. Pretty much anything goes.        

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