Earlier this month the fifth largest winner in the history of the PowerBall Lottery won a cool $220 million. The matter has been front-page news where I live in Boise, Idaho, because the new multi-millionaire is a local—he lives only a few miles from me.
The dream of instant success is strong for many. We want what we want, and we want it now! This is why the dream of quick riches through the Lottery is so popular.
Unfortunately, the same kind of thinking exists in the business world, with too many business owners bypassing the fundamentals while trying to find shortcuts to success. Their thinking is, “let’s skip the vision and mission statements and analyzing our strengths and weaknesses. We have a good product and if we just find a way to connect with the right buyers, we can get around all that busy work.”
Perhaps you know someone like that. Perhaps you are someone like that. The basic mindset is that if one can find another way to win, the “busy work” can be circumvented. I won’t say it’s not possible, but coming out ahead with this mindset is certainly the exception, not the rule.
One would be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with the notion that Thomas Edison was successful. Interestingly, many great work-related quotes come from Edison, such as:
“Great ideas originate in the muscles.”
“I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.”
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Although no one has exact numbers, I’d bet that the percentage of success stories among business owners trying to circumvent proven methods is much smaller than the percentage of success stories for those who follow the tried-and-true, reliable processes.
Essentially, the secret to success is that there is no secret. Certain practices have proven themselves worthy over time and across industries. These practices—
which all require a lot of work—
1. Articulating your company vision. This is stating where you “see” your company in the future.
2. Developing and clarifying your company mission. This is how you’re going to get to where you want to be.
3. Examining your internal strengths as well as your weaknesses. Exploring your external opportunities as well as your threats.
4. Deciding how to capitalize on your strengths to take advantage of your opportunities and prevent the threats from harming you. Forming strategies for shoring up your weaknesses to take advantage of opportunities as well as minimize threats.
5. Developing short and long-term goals based on your analysis.
6. Breaking down the goals into realistic, manageable tasks and delegating them appropriately.
7. Enjoying the fruit of success.
Bottom line, a plan by itself will not work: You must work the plan.
But first you must put forth the effort to ensure the plan will bring you the results you want. The main point, and I'm sure Thomas Edison would agree, is that planning for success involves a lot of work.
Best selling author Glenn Bland, in his book, Success: The Glenn Bland Method, says “nobody can stop a man with a plan, because nobody has a plan to stop him.” What great insight.
I try to emphasize the need for planning to people I meet. For example, on my desk I have a stack of crisp $100 notes from a little country called Mozambique. Visitors to my office are free to take one, but they have to know why I give them away.
The truth is that at one time the note held value, but now it does not. Why? Because the government that issued that money failed to plan for potential trouble down the road. Short-sightedness and lack of planning resulted in the government being overthrown, which made their money worthless.
The moral? The $100 note, which once had value, now has no value because leaders failed to plan.
The secret to success is that there is no secret. Visioneering, then communicating and acting on the vision and the plan will take organizations where they want to go. True, an occasional lucky break happens to some, but the fact is that success comes to more people who will create and work a viable plan rather than those who gamble their life away trying to find the perfect shortcut.