What’s Your Plan?

document-3268750_640Just over a week ago, the Apple Store in Moscow opened to a massive throng. For more than a day, people had been lining up to purchase the new iPhone XS and XS Max. As employees prepared to unlock the doors, a huge cheer rose from the crowd.

Product launches like this have been occurring for years, and it’s considered a badge of honor to be the first in line to purchase the latest gadgets. Yet, the first man in this particular line wasn’t very excited. In fact, he tore up his ticket and walked away, despite having camped out in front of the store for days. He was soon joined by the next seven in line. All abandoned their highly-coveted spot and left without ever setting foot inside the store.

That left the ninth man, who said his name was Valery, at the top of the queue. He walked inside; waving to the employees and reporters who had gathered to cover the event. Then he suddenly covered his face with his cap and awkwardly left the building without making a purchase. Like the eight people before him, he’d never actually planned on buying anything in the first place.

Each of these individuals had secured their place in line hoping to sell it to another consumer – someone eager to among the first with a new iPhone. With asking prices of up to 500,000 rubles (just over $7,600), it seemed like an easy way to make a lot of money. When no one showed to take them up on the offer, however, they had no choice but to abandon the wait and their hopes of cashing in.

Hope is not a strategy. It’s actually strategy’s direct opposite. Consider these definitions:

Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Strategy: a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

The key to the difference lies in the first two words of each definition. Hope is a feeling. Strategy is a plan. Hope is guesswork. Often described as a hunch, it offers the promise of maximum payout with minimal effort. It’s the default move of those who are too lazy or inept to devise and execute a plan.

Leaders who crush their goals always have a strategy to do so. They analyze the circumstances, create a plan of action, and then execute it. They involve the team, partnering with those who offer complementary skill sets and resources. They track their progress, adjusting along the way so that steady progress continues to be made. In short, they work hard. They work their strategy knowing that their actions are what produce results. And because they have a strategy, hope isn’t necessary.

As the fourth quarter of 2018 gets underway, I hope you have a strategic plan in place. I hope you are prepared to execute that plan so that your goals are met. I hope you aren’t relying on hope. Don’t be like Valery and others like him who simply wait for things to happen only to risk walking away empty-handed.