Make It a Plan

Make no mistake, There needs to be a plan before we go forward. This plan needs to be clear and thought out. There needs to be a goal and a strategy to achieve it. We have to establish this; otherwise, we find ourselves on the doorstep of an undesirable outcome.

Before heading into a meeting, or making a phone call, and before starting a job or a project, regardless to the work we have to do, there needs to be an idea. There needs to be a vision to focus upon or else we run the risk of missing our target. Keep in mind, everything we do we do for a reason. Everything we do is to honor a want, a thought, a feeling or a need. This will run the gamut between simple and complicated, but regardless to the details; the same rules apply. So make it a plan.

Some of our plans will be simple and nearly automatic. Some projects will require more attention and better planning. This is not only for business needs. This is life.

Before going forward, the question we need to understand is simple.
What’s the takeaway?
What do you want out of this journey? And for those involved, what do you want them do with them.
This has nothing to do with good, bad, positive or negative. This has nothing to do with emotion — it’s just facts, plan and execution. Plain and simple.

I stood in front of a classroom of high-schoolers, unsure what they would think of me and unsure if this would go well. I wanted them to understand the importance and severity of decisions. Sure, I was uncomfortable. But this is why I set up a plan for myself.

I wanted the students to understand themselves and their feelings — and, too, I wanted them to know that although our ages are different, the fashion I grew up with is different from theirs and so is the music, so is the technology for that matter, and even though the language has changed a little since I was their age, the core of us is still the same.

In my effort to create a message, I decided to focus on the fact that there is a commonality between us all. And people want this. People want to hear something they can relate to. They want something understandable and tangible —especially kids because otherwise, the message is lost in the complication of difference. Plus, difference can lead to discomfort and disassociation, so, to go forward, it is only smart to find the similarities that string us together.

The truth is people are comfortable with connection. People want to be understood. We want our needs met. We want to be listened to, valued, acknowledged, supported, and the need fits, people want to be happy with themselves and the decisions they make. We want to be empowered and inspired, not bored and unmotivated.

So what’s the takeaway?

Back at the high school, I was speaking on behalf of a program called, “Not Even Once.” This was to inform the students about the effects of drugs and the drug culture, which, to be honest about this, regardless to the tragic stories on the news and social media, culture is everything and in this case, underage drinking and the drug culture has reached “Rock star” status.
And status is everything.
Status is identity. This is how we want to be seen. This isn’t about who you are — this is about what you wear and what you have. This is about who you hang out with and which parties you go to.

This is about sitting at the cool kids table, which, I regret to inform you is an idea that does not stop after high school. No, the ideas of status and the need to “Be” follow us beyond the dates of our college graduation. The gossip mills and rumor factories do not die in the high school locker room. No, they only change details and follow us along in corporate board rooms.

If we think about it, school is just a training ground that teaches us how to socialize. In fact, I learned more about politics from the different variations of popularity than I ever did in Mr. Scherer’s Social Studies class. There’s the rich and the poor, the popular, the villain, the heroes and then there is the unknown and faceless people that no one talks about and almost have a degree of anonymity. You know these people too. We all do. They are the ones that come up and say, “Remember me?” and meanwhile, you smile and you nod your head, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “I have no idea who this person is!” This is social economics 101 in the cafeterias, lunch rooms, in board rooms, and union halls, and wherever else we might find ourselves in life.

No matter what the deal is; whether the plan is to negotiate a million dollar contract or if the items are as small as negotiating a price for better internet service — the question always comes down to this: What’s the takeaway?
What’s the plan?

In my case, I stood in front of a classroom of students, first period, and most of them were still half-asleep —most were rolling their eyes during my introduction from the guidance counselor, and most were planning on hearing someone come in, tell a few horror stories, say “Drugs are bad,” and then walk into the next period without so much as a minute of thought or a moment of reflection.

But what’s the takeaway? 
What’s the accomplishment?

Rather than inform the students of the ideas of the initiatives, I chose to reach out to our common core. I spoke to them without utilizing the unnecessary horror stories, which to certain ears is more attractive than deterring. To me, it seems to make better sense to explain the underlying truths that no one speaks about and attack this point from a different angle of commonality. This way I could overlap the information with a degree of understanding.

The idea of this presentation was to educate. So, why not do this and create thought as well?
Why not have them question and challenge their own assumptions and invite the ideas of motivational realization?
Otherwise, what’s the point?
Otherwise, it’s just another glorified story about being bad. And let’s be honest, oftentimes to a kid, being bad feels pretty good.
Plus, let’s not forget that being bad is less about being bad in most cases and, more accurately, being bad is really just an expression of the way we think, feel or see ourselves.

Rather than give the students more of the same, which, by now—literally everyone knows there is a drug problem in our country, why not discuss the reasons why we do this? Everyone knows about underage drinking. And sure, we want kids to know about the problems that come with dangerous decisions. We want our children to be strong, happy, healthy and successful. But where is the relation without reaching out to their commonality? Where are the sticking points we want to drive home if all is lost in a forced message and a waving finger that warns them to “Keep out of trouble now.”

No, if you ask me, this will not do.

Keep this in mind; this applies in more ways than just speaking in front of students about drug awareness. Actually, the idea of reaching out and touching upon our commonality is the key which opens the entryway of opportunity.  This is what creates thought and opens people up to the opportunity of realization.

This applies in business as well. The above ideas apply in both personal and professional worlds. Everything comes down to the same question: What’s the take away?

I have been in the challenging situation to wear different hats over the last few years. Regardless to whichever hat I wear, the same goals come to mind; I have to look for the commonalities and motivations to create my takeaway.

I have been involved with different business initiatives in both the blue collar and white collar sides of the table.
I have spoken in jails and in homeless shelters. I have presented in front of publicly traded, multi-billion dollar companies with one amazing truth; regardless to the difference in address or zip codes, wealth, age, technology and otherwise, our core is still the same; therefore, the commonality of our core need are the same.

So what does this mean?
The truth is we all have a goal. We all have our own agenda. We have needs both personal and financial. Therefore, in order to gain these needs and have them met, we have to understand the value of our strategy. We have to learn how to interact with other people without giving in to distraction of emotion.

If this is our life and this is our only shot at it; it all comes down to this: What’s the takeaway? What’s the goal? What’s the plan? What’s the strategy to achieve it?

Know what I say about this?
I say figure this out and you will have found your key to success —

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