Will Rogers said “it aint so much the things we know that get us in trouble, it’s the things we know that aint so.” Truer words have never been spoken about one of the most abused words in our vocabulary. That word is Strategy.
Many misconceptions exist, from how people use the word strategy, to the science of strategy itself. We use strategy in everyday language and apply the term as if it were a plan of action, ” I have a strategy for writing that new account” ” This is my strategy for losing weight, or ” My long term strategy is to become the CFO of ABC company”
When people talk like this, they are misusing the word Strategy. Let’s start with what Strategy is not. It’s not another word for a good idea. Strategy is not a goal, a plan of action for the future. Strategy is not a way of thinking, or a checklist, or time management, organization or buzzwords like multi tasking or optimization. Strategy is something else altogether.
- Strategy is a science based on the laws of human nature.
- Strategy is the way you analyze and advance your position
- Strategy is a method for making better decisions
- Strategy is a system for turning problems into opportunities.
- Most importantly Strategy is a process.
The science of strategy involves a well-defined and static process consisting of four steps:
Strategy defines your situation, whatever it is, as a position. Position simply describes your relationship with people in your public and private life. Strategy is the process you use to advance this position, and what you need to advance your position is a practical system.
Making significant advances in position without strategy is like throwing darts a board blindfolded, or climbing to the roof without a ladder. Strategy is the universal ladder that you use to expand and improve you position.
This is the key to making all dreams come true. Good things happen to you when you use strategy to improve your situation. You gradually move yourself into a little bit better position that makes bigger opportunities possible on a continual basis.
Every day you make dozens of decisions. Over the next 10-20 years in your life you will make millions of decisions. Some of these decisions will seem large, and others will appear small. However in a few years of retrospect those that initially appeared big will turn out to be trivial. And a few decisions that seemed very minor will turn out to have a big impact on your life.
Here’s an example of how one small decision had a huge impact on my life. I was working as a loss control rep for a Lumber Specialty Company. I was making a decent living, but was nowhere where I wanted to be, or become. I was contacted by an agent friend who thought he had the inside track on writing a huge sawmill. It was a last minute window of opportunity, and he couldn’t get a loss control evaluation done before it closed. He asked if I knew any independent consultants who new enough about Sawmills to do a good job? Obviously that was a rhetorical question. I told him I would do it for him.
I took a couple of vacation days, completed the evaluation, and submitted my report to an underwriter who knew my reputation as a lumber specialist and safety professional. My friend wrote the account, which generated over $50,000 in revenue. He told his agency owners why he wrote the business. Soon after, the agency began contracting me for rush jobs, or as a 2nd opinion. A year later, they offered me a job to create a safety/loss control division and paid me twice what I was making. The business grew, I became partner, and I met my wife at the agency.
One small shift in positioning, one decision changed my career, my income, my personal life and the entire future for myself and my family.
Now, think if we could position ourselves purposely on a daily basis to take advantage of life changing opportunities what a profound impact that would have.
Let me summarize by saying that strategy isn’t what you think or plan to do, Strategy is what you do to position yourself for advancement when opportunity knocks.