As we approach a brand new year most everyone I know is breathing a sigh of relief that the present one is finally over. The year 2001– which started with political turmoil resulting from our presidential election, continued with growing economic travail and finally ended with the war on terrorism–will not long be forgotten.
So, we approach 2002 with expectations for better times and the hope that both the war and recession will be short-lived. But it is just a hope at this juncture.
The new year not only is a time to take stock of where we are and have been but it is also a time for planning and deciding where we wish to go. Typically it is a time for goal setting and planning.
Unfortunately, many people stop at the goal-setting process and never get around to planning how to get there. Planning is the hard part for it entails weighing options and sacrifices that may need to be exercised in order to achieve the desired goals.
I recall an incident early in my selling career when a young metallurgist, on the occasion of starting a new business, told me that he needed to buy a lot of life insurance because he expected to become wealthy and would need the insurance to pay estate taxes. So far as I know, though, I am not aware of anything he ever did to make it happen. As a consequence, now 40 years later, he is hardly any better off than he was then. His was not a realistic goal, rather just another pipe dream or wishful thinking. If I could paraphrase a rebut to a line from a once popular ballad, “wishing will not make it so.”
At a time when J. Paul Getty was one of the worlds richest men, someone asked him how to make a lot of money. He replied that he had never known anyone who set out to make a lot of money who succeeded. However, he said he had known a good many people who had set out to build a business and wound up making a lot of money in the process. Setting goals is a fine exercise, but without planning and execution, goals are worthless.
Thousands of books, speeches and seminars have been committed to the concepts involved in planning, so I see no need to reiterate those lessons here. But there is one aspect of planning that I feel is not emphasized enough and yet is, I feel, an invaluable part of planning and execution. I refer to the ability to be patient.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from a Chinese fortune cookie. It said, “A handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains.”