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Winning in the Workplace #32: Planned Spontaneity


The age-old maxim, “Look before you leap” is good advice in any endeavour, and is accepted by successful people in every industry. Success is almost always the result of good planning. Interestingly, however, one of the other hallmarks of high achievers is the willingness and ability to make instant decisions, followed with immediate action. This apparent paradox is a great illustration of a very powerful practice that we can all learn from.

The secret is that this spontaneity of high achievers isn’t quite as spontaneous as it looks. It’s really just another part of the planning process, and a reflection of an ability to anticipate. Although a decision looks split-second to you, it is probably something that the high achiever has already given considerable thought to. It is a very powerful skill to acquire, and you can develop it by playing an ongoing ‘what if’ game with yourself.

Make it a practice to imagine different scenarios at work and different approaches to your job, and think through the implications. If you do this on an ongoing basis, you find that it becomes much easier to make those ‘spontaneous’ decisions – because you’ve already considered and anticipated the potential outcomes of so many hypothetical situations. This exercise also helps you deal with change better, and ensure you are better prepared for all the things life throws at you. Yes, it perhaps may be true that many – or even most – of the scenarios you imagine will never come to pass, but no-one ever suffered from being too well prepared!

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