Planning for a Better 2021 – The “Launch”

The “Launch” is the seventh step in our planning process. It’s also one of the most frequently skipped steps. It is amazing to me how many times I’ve seen a person or a company invest time and in the case of companies, huge amounts of money, to develop a great plan and then do nothing with it. 

Years ago I was working for a company and we were contacted by one of the largest banks in the world. While they were already huge, their growth was stagnant and they wanted a plan to begin growing again. 

We advised them that the first step of developing a plan would be determining where they were at right now…we needed a crystal clear idea of their “As Is.” As I said this was a large bank and the most effective way to determine their current situation was to conduct a needs assessment throughout all levels of the organization. This would a seven figure investment and they would receive an actionable plan that would lead to a return to growth for the organization. 

We delivered the plan to the bank on time, which was four months after the process began. They were a little overwhelmed at the amount of detail we provided but they agreed wholeheartedly with our findings. They were excited to be moving forward. 

We scheduled our first follow up meeting (The Follow Up will be the 8th and final step in our process) for 90 days after they put the plan into action. 90 days later when we called to confirm the follow up meeting they asked to reschedule. They were still preparing to launch the plan “in the very near future.” Remember they paid over a million dollars for the needs assessment and the plan that came out of it. 

The bank NEVER did actually launch the plan. They had the best of intentions. They invested heavily to make certain their plan was actionable and that their desired outcomes would be achieved. But they failed to launch!

The “Launch” is where having a coach or a mentor can make a huge difference. Without someone to hold you accountable you may never begin. Or, you may have a few “false starts” and then never get going again. 

Think of all the time you’ve invested to this point. You likely know more about yourself then you ever have before. You’ve dreamed your dream and made a plan to make it become real. You’ve done the hardest part. 

All that’s left is to implement the plan. 

You need to take that first step. Some of us, okay, most of us will still need a little push. That’s what your coach or mentor is for. If you think coaches or mentors are only for big shots then don’t get one.  But find yourself an accountability partner and ask them to hold you accountable. The only requirement for an accountability partner is that they care enough about you to actually hold you accountable. 

I can’t say that strongly enough…whoever you ask to hold you accountable MUST truly CARE for you. That is a must must must! They need to be willing to keep encouraging you, pushing you, even scolding you in that’s what’s needed. Your accountability partner needs to stay along side of you when you tell them you’re done. They must care enough to not allow you to be done. 

Some people seem to misread the title of this step. After completing their plan instead of going to “launch” they simply go to lunch…and apparently never come back. Lunch can wait, your future will not! Implement your plan ASAP…as in today because in you’re always waiting for tomorrow, tomorrow never comes. 

Real Decisions Require Action

Making decisions can be a challenge. Making real decisions is even more challenging. A real decision is one that brings about action. Real action.

Real action causes something to change. It may not change much for you but whatever change is caused by your actions sends a ripple effect to those around you. Hopefully you understand that. It means that your decisions and the actions that result from them don’t only affect you, they affect the people around you as well. Your actions can have a big impact on those closest to you.

If you understand that then you should know the reverse is also true. You will be affected by the decisions and actions of the people around you. The closer those people are to you the bigger the impact.

That’s why it’s so important that your decisions lead to action. It’s not really a decision if nothing different happens because of it. Without action nothing different will happen. For those of you who believe it’s sometimes best to not make a decision you should know that a decision to not decide IS a decision. It’s a decision to allow the decisions and actions of others to control and shape your life.

You can make a decision to “stand pat” or “sit tight” or whatever you want to call it but unless virtually ever other person in the world also does nothing then something is going to change for you.

The change may be small and it may take some time for you to realize the change happened but it will happen. The only question is do you want change to happen to you or because of you? Do you want to control the change in your life or are you willing to allow the change to control you?

You can decide whatever you want but if the decision isn’t followed up by some sort of action then you might as well not have decided at all.

You may be only one decision away from an entirely different life. You may be only one decision away from being able to maintain the life you have. Whichever is the case both require that your decisions include an action step.

The decisions that affect your life are being made ever day. You must decide if you want input into the effects of those decisions or you’re willing to let someone else choose your path.

Happiness requires some control over your life. That control can only come from deciding what you want and then taking action to make it happen. As we head into 2020 I don’t think I’m going to wish anyone a Happy New Year. I think I’ll wish people an Active New Year!

Tomorrow in Pompeii

I visited the ancient city of Pompeii last week. This is the city near Naples, Italy that was swallowed up by a volcanic eruption in the year 79 AD. It was buried in ash for over a 1000 years and rediscovered in 1599 when excavation was begun on a costal highway.  

It was an amazing, surprising, incredible, and shocking place. I was amazed by the sheer size of it. To say it was sprawling would be an understatement. Some of the dwellings were huge, even by today’s standards. There was clearly a class system in place and some were obviously better off than others. I was surprised by how advanced it must have been for the time. There were many shops and storefronts, there must have been a pretty advanced system of commerce. Speaking of commerce there were somewhere around 20-25 brothels in Pompeii to service the visiting sailors who arrived in their port. 

The layout and engineering of the city was incredible. Their ability to collect and direct water was very advanced and we even saw what was described as the first retail bakery shops. I don’t know how they can be certain they were the “first” but no other civilization is coming forward to dispute the claim so I guess they have it.

Most of all I was shocked by how suddenly it all ended for them. They figure the people of Pompeii were gassed by the volcano and then buried by the ash. That’s why the bodies, buildings, and roads are so well preserved. It’s that preservation that shows so much detail about how the people lived their everyday lives. 

It looks like they had pretty darn good lives. They lived very much as we do today, it appears they had jobs, hobbies, family, and friends. They enjoyed a good meal and time to relax. They worked hard and it showed in what they were able to build. They prospered right up until the time they didn’t. 

People being people I’ll bet many of them had plans for tomorrow on the very day that the volcano erupted. People they were going to talk too and important things they wanted to accomplish. An unfinished task they were finally going to get completed. Perhaps some were finally going to deliver a long overdue “thank you” to someone who had shown them kindness. So much to accomplish tomorrow.

But tomorrow never happened. 

Here we are thousands of years later, I’ll bet many of us have plans for tomorrow. Some little things we want to do. Some big big plans to begin that we know will change our lives. Some of us perhaps have some relationship fences to mend or we owe someone a long delayed apology. Tomorrow will be the day we make it right. 

But what if tomorrow doesn’t happen? 

The people of Pompeii were literally frozen in place. They died and their plans died with them. Many of us are metaphorically frozen in place, frozen in today, always waiting until tomorrow to tackle that tough task or unpleasant, challenging conversation. 

But what if tomorrow didn’t happen?

What are you putting off until tomorrow that you could just as easily do today? Take a moment right now to ask yourself why you’re not starting today. Be honest with yourself and be especially honest about whether you have a legitimate reason or just a procrastination inducing excuse. 

Whatever you can do today, do today. We may not all lose tomorrow the way the people of Pompeii did but for each of us there is a day when tomorrow will not happen. Perhaps we’re better off living as if that day might possibly be the day we’re living now. 

The Key to Success

This could be the shortest post in the history of posts. One word could do it. 

That word is action. 

All the education, thinking, planning, motivating, goal setting, and organizing mean almost nothing if no one acts on any of it. Successful people take action. It’s as simple as that.

They sometimes need help and they aren’t afraid to ask for it. Sometimes they need a push to get going but once they get going they don’t stop until their goal is reached. The action may sometimes be fast and may sometimes be slow but it doesn’t stop. 

Successful people plan but they are not so busy planning that they never get started doing. They can tell you with a pretty good level of specificity what they will do today, tomorrow, and the next day to succeed…. and they don’t just say it, they do it.

So how about you? Are you saying or doing. Are you thinking or doing? Are you planning or planning AND doing? 

Successful people know that success is not due until and unless they do!

Get going! 

Immediate Action Required


Each quarter The Toro Company hosts what we call Team Talks for all employees. They always have some sort of theme and are usually hosted by Mike Hoffman, Toro’s CEO. A while back we had a Team Talk and Mike themed it “The Untimes.” It was about the times we live in, you know, Unpredictable, Unprecedented, Uncertain, you get it, all the Un’s we face today. The message that we live in untimes was spot on.

People around the world have faced the Untimes before, we know that from history. In fact, given history we should not be shocked by where we are today. Think about that – history teaches us that things are as they should be! We got where we are through our action, inaction, choices, and our connection with life’s uncertainties.

After analyzing your own situation, you might be relieved, or deeply concerned. The key is to know and be honest about your current situation; save the blame or congratulations because both are distractions.

If you are doing well, you could just keep on keeping on or you may even be in a position to help others. If you are in tough shape, it could be time to get serious about prioritizing your actions.

Just remember, it’s easy to get outcomes confused with actions. For example, making a sale is an outcome, while making a sales call is an action. An action is a step you can take on your own (making the call) while making the sale is dependent upon the actions of another. You can’t fully control outcomes, but you can and should control actions.

Are your actions the most reasonable and productive for what must be done today? If you just take care of the next five minutes, the next hour, and the next day, you can take care of your life. Don’t procrastinate on this. No action will be perfect but taking action is mandatory if we’re going to create our own future.

Waiting for someone else to take action is like letting someone else decide your future. We become a victim of the untimes because we let the uncertainties of life paralyze us and then we lose our grip on responsibility. We lose our grip on responsibility for our own future, responsibility for our own success, and responsibility even for our own actions. Without action, personal responsibility takes a holiday.

We may not always like the actions we need to take but we always have a choice. Working from a perspective of choice is vital in tough times. “No choice,” is the mantra of the victim. Our top choice should be easy, “Am I going to be a victim? Or am I going to be responsible for my own success”?

The decision to take action should be stuck to our soul; it should be wrapped around our axel and one of our foremost thoughts. Always!

So…what actions must you take today in order to achieve success tomorrow? Take action immediately and make the future you desire. Who better to decide your fate than you?