Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Be An ‘Accidental Success’ – The Importance Of The Non-Plan

For my new book ‘Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life’ I spoke to a number of jugglers about their guiding principles in life and business.

And their feedback confirms my own approach that has shaped my career and business:

The plan is – there is no plan.

Sure, part of being a Juggler is being an architect: designing your work life around your passions and skills. But it’s not having a grand strategic plan; more a flexible one that you are prepared to tear-up when things need reinventing (and they will need re-inventing). So you have to be flexible.

Andy Bird is Chairman of Walt Disney International. He works with Disney's business unit leaders around the world, tasked with coordinating and overseeing growth opportunities for the company. Andy describes himself as an ‘accidental executive’; he never had a big plan, but advocates staying open-minded about opportunities:

‘I don't have a game plan. I just want to do whatever I am asked to, do the best that I can, and I have got to have fun. If I don’t have fun I have learned there is no point in doing it’ [interview with Raymond Snoddy, ‘The Independent’ 19 December 2005]

Andy’s philosophy makes a lot of sense and it’s obviously paid off as he’s climbed to dizzy heights at the world’s biggest entertainment corporation. So you have to keep it loose and stay open minded.

One of my featured jugglers Roxanne Darling feels she has made up her career as she went along but is also a firm believer in the importance of instinct:

‘In hindsight, it sure feels like there have been some guiding forces in my life to make sense of the circuitous paths I have willingly taken. I do believe that when there is a strong desire for something, and it keeps showing up, then I am safe to explore it even though its value to me or relevance might not be apparent for many years’.

So whilst it’s important to have goals and objectives; a fixed strategy isn’t always the best route for your career or business development. After all, look what happens when an economic recession comes along; your plan may crumble and you have to re-invent it anyway.

Success evolves, it’s organic, un-known. Survival relies on that flexibility. So you can’t build a five year plan on where you or your business is going to be; you need to see what happens, be ready to be enterprising and be ready to juggle. Another featured juggler Mike Southon also feels his career has been ‘by accident’ rather than part of a plan; success has been the result of being at the right place at the right time, sometimes doing things consciously, other times subconsciously.

And the most important tool to navigate you through your Non-Plan?

- Instinct.

Go with your instinct every time and strive to be an ‘Accidental Success’. As Gary Vaynerchuk told me:

I made it up. I only listen to my gut feelings and my gut talks to me often’

1 comment:

Roxanne Darling said...

Being able to juggle aka go with the flow aka live in the present tense takes guts as well as listening to one's gut. Recently most plans I have made have been foiled - I think to help break my lingering false confidence in my future plans. I look forward to continued reading Ian!

This is a great time of mutual support and peership. Thank you.