Michael in Growth 5 minutes

Planning vs. Execution

When you’re new at something, you’re excited and want to prove yourself, and you want to get to that “proving” of yourself as quickly as possible. There is a lot of tension in your life through feeling “new” at that thing, and that tension is uncomfortable.

The other day Annie and I were talking about something she was working on. We were breaking the problem down into steps that she understood and she was beginning to internalize the plan. She was eager to put the plan into action and getting excited about the newfound insights she had gained from our discussion.

Then she made a tactical mistake: she got so excited about the plan, that she started working on that plan.

That sounds great, and it is great in principle, but the problem with her approach to just get started with it was that we really weren’t done planning out the whole of what she was working on to accomplish.

This mistake is similar to what I’ve seen over and over with newer people in technology. Early on in my career I worked with a friend of mine that always wrote everything down. I would kind of make fun of him…but then realized that his organization and plan meant that he executed at a level that I didn’t.

So I started writing things down. I started making a plan. And I started really focusing on the planning phase of my work. I was also able to separate the planning phase from the execution phase.

When you’re executing on a great plan, it’s like the wind is at your back and everything is easy. When you’re working without a good plan, especially when you’re new to something, you get onto an emotional rollercoaster of unclear expectations. The key to growth is making finding the plan just as important as executing on the plan.