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Is Planning a Kind of Guessing?

Is Planning a Kind of Guessing?

What happens before you have a big test? Someone usually asks you if you have a study plan.

What happens when you graduate from one school? Someone will want to know your plan moving forward.

At work, on a new project, bosses often want to hear about the task plan.

To many, the idea of planning is almost a superpower — it’s a concrete path to success. Without a plan, you can’t do anything.

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To an extent, this is true. But in reality, a plan is actually no more than guessing. It’s not that concrete. There’s no guarantee of success. Hundreds of plans concocted every day fail (if not millions). While planning does give you a glimpse of the future, how we think about it is misguided. We view it as a GPS that can guide you anywhere. In reality, it’s a GPS that sometimes fails to work or give you completely accurate directions.

    Sticking to the Plan Can Be Bad

    Plans reduce panic. This is a key point. All human beings have fear of uncertainty, even though uncertainty is essentially normative. When you have to do something you’re unsure of, your body reacts: sweaty palms and shortness of breath. Having a plan gives us more certainty and makes us panic less. Imagine driving in a new area. You’re nervous, and may be lost. Your friend has a GPS, though! That’s a plan. It is a direction. It will list the steps you need to reach where you’re going. Less panic.

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      Planning is good — but aiming to always stick to the plan is bad. As President Eisenhower said during his military days,

      I’ve always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

      Now think of the same situation in a car. If you’re driving from New York to Philadelphia, most people would go on Interstate 95 South. That’s the plan. But what if, on this day, there is an overturned truck in the middle of I-95? Now you need a new plan. You need to use surface roads or other routes. The plan has to change because of conditions.

      A Plan Can Become an Illusion

      To reduce uncertainties, we worry too much about covering all the bases. We then lack action around how things actually go.

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      There will always be a gap between the ideal world and reality — when we over-commit to the plan, it restricts the way we can solve the problem and neglects other possibilities. If the plan is bigger than you, you won’t be able to deviate from it and make the best decisions in an unexpected situation.

      Think again about GPS. Some faulty GPS devices will literally tell you to drive on water. That’s currently impossible unless you have a Hovercraft. So if you follow the GPS above all, you might drive your car into the sea.

        Planning is essentially guesswork

        Don’t get obsessed with your plan. Blindly following a plan that has a limited relationship with reality will only make things worse.

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        Think about jazz musicians. They perform with a plan, but also go with the flow. It’s very spontaneous and improvised by the end. It’s the same with comedy or other forms of performance art. A comedian begins his set with a plan of jokes, and the order of jokes, but you need to respond to the audience. Maybe you get heckled. Maybe one set of jokes isn’t working. You need to adjust the plan.

        Now back to that GPS example, what if your friend finds a bridge far away that can cross the water? Perfect. It wasn’t part of the original plan (which was a guess, honestly), but now you have a way to cross the water in your car.

          Improvise Like a Jazz Musician

          Planning isn’t the only way to success. Rather, a plan must be reviewed continually. Review the plan to see if it aligns with the challenges faced in reality. Don’t let a plan confine you from making decisions on what’s best for the situation. Follow the base in the plan, but improvise along the way when facing different situations.

          Especially in work contexts, we tend to think planning is the be-all and end-all. We have yearly plans, strategic plans, etc. But work conditions change all the time: employees leave, new bosses are promoted, the market you compete in shifts, etc. What then? The plan needs to change. It happens at the personal level all the time too. Don’t let the plan be everything. Be prepared to improvise. We’re all jazz musicians in a way.

          Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

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          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on May 22, 2019

          50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry

          50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry

          LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network with great people to help you in your career and businesses. However, with over 575 million people on the site, who should you follow? This list will steer you to the right people to follow, organized by categories of expertise.

          Job Search Experts

          You will likely have several jobs throughout the course of your career, and you will constantly need advice on new trends and strategies out there in the job market. Here are the LinkedIn experts who you should follow on these matters.

          1. Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Her articles on job searching are filled with creative and colorful cartoons.

          2. Lou Adler is the author of The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired.

          3. Dr. Marla Gottschalk will help you make an impact in a new job.

          4. Hannah Morgan runs CareerSherpa.net, where she gives expert advice on job searching and how to be more visible online.

          5. Alison Doyle is the CEO and Founder of CareerToolBelt.com.

          Management Experts

          They say that people leave managers, not jobs. These experts in LinkedIn will help you become your employees’ dream manager.

          6. Jeff Weiner. How can we leave out the CEO of LinkedIn himself?

          7. Nozomi Morgan is an executive coach. She can help you transition from a boss to a true leader.

          8. Mickey Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He constantly shares his expertise in managing a global player in e-commerce platforms.

          9. Andreas von der Heydt was the head of Amazon’s Kindle Content and now the Director of Talent Acquisition. He has extensive experience in management, branding, and marketing.

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          Productivity Experts

          By maximizing your productivity, you can win in all aspects of life. The following LinkedIn experts will help you win big in your career.

          10. Gretchen Rubin is a happiness coach and the bestselling author of the The Happiness Project.

          11. Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply. She advises us to include play in our schedules.

          12. Greg Mckeown is an essentialist. Part of being an essentialist is saying no to many things so that we can focus on the things that matter.

          13. Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. provides strategies on how to be productive and happy at work at the same time.

          Marketing Experts

          14. Sujan Patel is VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software. He is an expert in content marketing and he even shares his ideas on content marketing in 2020.

          15. Megan Berry is the Head of Product Development at Rebelmouse, a content marketing and AlwaysOn powerhouse.

          16. Sean Gardner will help you navigate the social media landscape. This includes how to use different platforms to help accelerate your career. He is also the bestselling author of The Road to Social Media Success.

          17. Christel Quek is an digital and marketing expert. She is the VP of South East Asia at Brandwatch. Their products help businesses utilize social media data to make better business decisions.

          18. Jeff Bullas is a digital marketing expert. His blog has over 4 million readers annually.

          19. Michael Stelzer is the CEO and Founder of social media powerhouse site, Social Media Examiner.

          20. If you’re looking for inbound and content marketing expertise, follow Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of Hubspot.

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          21. David Edelman is a McKinsey partner and is at the helm of the Digital Marketing Strategy Practice Department.

          22. Dave Kerpen leads the social media software company Likeable Local. He is the author of Likeable Social Media: How to delight your customers.

          23. Clara Shih is the CEO of Hearsay Social and the author of The Facebook Era.

          24. Aaron Lee is Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner. He is an excellent resource for everything social media.

          25. David Sable is the CEO of Y&R, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.

          26. Content marketing trumps traditional marketing these days, and who else better to lead you in this area than Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute.

          Personal Branding Experts

          Part of what we market in our personal career is our brand. When people hear your name, what kind of brand comes into their mind? What traits and qualities do they associate with you?

          Here are some personal branding experts from LinkedIn to improve your own brand.

          27. Dorie Clark is the author of Stand Out and Reinventing You. He can help you craft the professional image you’ve always wanted.

          28. Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you’re a millennial, Dan is the guy to help you craft your personal brand.

          Other Notable Experts to Follow

          29. Lisa Gates is the expert to follow if you’re negotiating for higher salaries and promotions.

          30. If you’re a Baby Boomer, Marc Miller will help you navigate the continually changing landscape of the workplace.

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          31. To avoid getting your resumé moved to the “No” pile, read Paul Freiberger’s excellent advice.

          32. James Caan provides insightful ideas on careers in general. He is also a serial entrepreneur.

          33. Jeff Haden writes on various topics, such as leadership and management. He is the owner of Blackbird Media.

          34. If you’re looking for expert business advice on getting new customers and keeping them, follow Jay Baer.

          35. Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, is a great human resources specialist.

          36. If you need help in using Twitter to boost your career, Claire Diaz-Ortiz can guide you in the right direction.

          37. Ryan Holmes is the CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

          38. Customers are the lifeblood of a business and Colin Shaw focuses on revolutionizing this customer experience.

          39. Brian Solis often reflects on the future of business and how technology can disrupt our world.

          40. Nancy Lublin provides advice on more lighthearted topics, which are perfect after a long day’s work. She is the CEO behind Dosomething.org, a portal designed for social change; and the founder & CEO of Loris.ai and Crisis Text Line.

          41. Katya Andresen provides advice on how to manage your career. She was the CEO of Cricket Media and now responsible for the SVP Card Customer Experience at Capital One.

          42. Gallup has created a system to test what your strengths are and how to use them at work. Jim Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

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          43. Adam Grant is a Wharton Professor and the author of Give and Take, which provides advice on why being helpful at work can accelerate your career.

          44. Hunter Walk is a partner at Homebrew Venture Capitalist Company and has specialty in product development and management.

          45. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, follow Beth Kanter for expert advice on this area.

          46. Emotional Intelligence is necessary to succeed in your career, and Daniel Goleman is your expert for that.

          47. Rita J. King connects science, technology and business.

          48. Tori Worthington Rose is a Creative Director at Mary Beth West Communications, LLC. She has extensive experience in sales and digital media.

          49. If you’re looking for some advice on how to use writing and personal content marketing to boost your career, follow Ann Handley.

          50. Tim Brown is the CEO at IDEO and shares his insights on Leadership and Creativity.

          These are just some of the key thought leaders and movers in various industries. They will provide you with constant inspiration, as well as the willpower to pursue the career that you’ve always wanted. Their stream of expert ideas in their respective fields will help you become well-equipped in your professional pursuits.

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          Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

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