If there’s one thing my dad’s good at in this world, it’s running a business. Poor guy tried in vain to encourage his only daughter to pursue the highly practical path of a business degree, but instead I chose the deliciously colorful buffet that is Cultural Anthropology. In standard father-daughter form, I resisted most of the wisdom he attempted to send my way, although a few gems managed to pass through the semi-permeable membrane of my stubborn dome. One keeper in particular, the principal of The 5 P’s - Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance, hit the mark and I continue to use it on the daily.
If you’ve ever bombed something super hard due to lack of preparation or had those sinking indigestion cramps that come from winging an important test, interview, performance or presentation, then you and I are procrastination power twins separated at birth. Somewhere along the line I discovered that bullshitting and half-assing my way through life actually worked pretty well, or at the very least kept me from failing or getting fired. But operating from a center of minimal effort and barely squeaking through important events and commitments lacks power, confidence and any sense of personal pride. It's skeezy... and I no longer operate from a position of skeez.
A few years back I participated in a 3-month Landmark Education course called Self Expression and Leadership that forced me to confront my half-assing reindeer games head on. In the program, participants were invited to develop ambitious community service projects requiring passion, intention and most importantly… a PLAN. Coached to "plan our work and work our plan," we followed what is known as the Merlin Principle - executing a goal in reverse order by laying it out from the end result to the very first beginning step in clear, calculable measures.
The Merlin Principle delivers solid results when a plan is strategically and thoughtfully constructed with clear intention, milestones and realistic, actionable steps. It allows you to bridge the end result with cold, hard reality – the meat and potatoes of what it's gonna take to get the shit done. $100k doesn’t just fall out of the sky, land on your face and start to wiggle. 30 pounds doesn’t just poof off your body and rise into the atmosphere like dust. Goals of this caliber, or any caliber for that matter, require a properly planned planny plan.
Repeat after me: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Tattoo it on your face, or simply have it made into a gold-leaf lacquer wall plaque to hang beside your desk. Next, go to a medieval collectibles website and snatch up one of those glitter-encrusted wizard figurines to remind you of the Merlin Principle. This tiny shrine of planning will be your guide as you execute your goals like a ninja and work them backwards from the end result to the present moment. Young grasshopper, you’ve got this!