When I was younger, I had a recurring dream that I was driving a car by looking only in the rear view mirror. It probably has some deep psychological meaning about my childhood – I never found out – but it never ended in disaster; it wasn’t a nightmare.
As regular readers of this blog will know, in developing The Repair Shed, I’ve taken many opportunities to reflect on my ‘journey’ so far – to look in the rear view mirror and use what I see to map my route ahead.
So looking back is part of business planning, what about looking forward?
Business planning has more than its fair share of clichés, quotes and supposedly-clever sayings. ‘Fail to plan and you fail to plan’ and ’Pisspoor planning prevents proper performance’ (and any number of variation on the Ps of planning) are just two. I’m in favour of creating a map for the business journey; I’ve often advocated it when advising others while sharing another home truth – the planning process is more important than the plan itself.
But what if you didn’t look too far forwards or backwards while developing your business? It may sound like heresy, but bear with me…
I’m a convert to mindfulness – something which has been around a long time but is fast becoming more mainstream to the extent that schools and MPs are now considering its benefits. My sister who teaches mindfulness graphically summed it up for me when she said “If you have one foot in the past regretting what you didn’t do, and the other foot in the future worrying about what might happen, you piss on the present.”
Mindfulness is about living more in the present, being consciously aware of the ‘here and now’ to create some calm in an increasingly frantic world. I try to practise mindfulness each day when I’m shaving (I close my eyes and shave by touch), driving to work (giving a running commentary on my driving, other road-users and the driving environment) and while I’m cross-country running (scanning my body and identifying changes in everything from my breathing to my aching joints).
Going back to my recurring dream, while it would be impossible to ‘drive your business’ by only looking where you’ve been, you only have to see a short distance ahead to make progress (just as you can when walking or running).
Given the speed of change in the working and living environment and the likelihood that whatever you plan beyond a couple of months ahead is likely to need changing, what might happen if you didn’t have a medium/ long term plan? Here are just three speculative suggestions:
- You might save a lot of time in meetings discussing things that will never happen, giving you more time to focus on running your business right now
- You might be more open to opportunities and more responsive to the immediate needs of your customers (who says being pro-active is better than being reactive?)
- Workers might feel less pressured by distant targets and more focussed on getting their job done better on a day to day basis
What do you think – could your business benefit from being more focussed on the present by being more mindful? Or maybe you think not enough time is spent planning ahead?
Further reading on reflection: https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/on-reflection-building-a-shed-day-400