Please bear with my running story, it is relevant then I get down to business.
On Monday’s I attend an online event at 7 am, Wisdoms123 Chats, it is hosted in South Africa so a more reasonable time of 8 am there. At this time of year it means getting up in the dark; however the good thing is that by the time it is over (it lasts for about 30 to 40 minutes) it is light enough to go for a run. A great way to start the day.
Unfortunately, this Monday I also had a commitment at 8 am, UK time, and a busy day ahead. Getting a run in looked unlikely; not good. There was one small gap in the schedule after the 8 am meeting that could be exploited with some planning and adjustments. I normally have a cooked breakfast when I get back from the run, there would be no time for that, so I prepared overnight oats the day before and ate them before the 7 am Zoom meeting. Even though it is advertised as a breakfast meeting I think eating while on screen is not the thing to do. My kit was all laid out and I had pre-planned where I would go so that I knew I’d get back in time to have a shower and dress before the next meeting. If things didn’t go quite to plan, I could always wipe my face with a flannel and shower later; there is no odour function on Zoom, yet!
It had been wet and windy when I got up, when I got out of the door, the rain had gone, and the wind had died down; it was a lovely sunny day. That was lucky I thought, then I realised it wasn’t luck. It would have been sunny whether I had gone for a run or not; I was only enjoying it because I had planned and been able to work around the other commitments to get outside.
Wikipedia says Gary Player* (South African golfing legend) “Coined one of the most quoted aphorisms of post-War sport”:
The harder you practice, the luckier you get.
I like to think the more you plan the luckier you get. Perhaps one day Wikipedia will attribute that aphorism to me.
The more you plan, the luckier you get.
It might seem that in business the more you plan the luckier you get, and it is certainly in line with W H Murray’s thinking:
“…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.” – full quote produced at the end of this post.
I know what he means, and the sentiment is certainly spot on; however, Providence does not move, and those things would have occurred irrespective of whether ones commits or not. Our awareness of those events and the outcomes are affected by planning, as a simple example will demonstrated. You have a business selling cakes and get your ingredients delivered from a wholesaler at the other end of the M5. You know that accidents can happen so maintain a small stock. That accident will happen no matter what you do, by planning the effects are mitigated. You may think that is good risk management, but what about when it is something good that happens, is that luck or the result of planning. Let’s look at an example; you are at a networking event and get talking to some one who has a wonderful recipe for brownies. You are thrilled, your sponges are superb; however, your brownies are borderline. You had planned to visit the British Library to research brownie recipes, now you don’t need to do that, what a stroke of luck. No, it is not, you were always going to meet that person. If you were not planning to sort your brownies out the comment about the brownie recipe would have been said and fallen on deaf ears.
Why W H Murray says “All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred” is because your antennae are twitching and you notice them, indeed many you will grab with both hands. With out planning they would have passed without being noticed, to you it would appear that they had not happened because you were not aware of them.
So, plan, plan and plan and get ‘lucky’.
*Wikipedia is wrong; Gary Player attributes the saying to fellow golfer Jerry Barber. However, it would seem that the saying, or something very similar has been around since at least the 1940s.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. – W. H. Murray